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Understanding Peripartum Pelvic Pain: Implications of a Patient Survey

Mens, Jan M. A. MD*; Vleeming, Andry PhD; Stoeckart, Rob PhD; Stam, Henk J. MD, PhD*; Snijders, Chris J. PhD

Survey

Study Design.: An analysis was made of the self‐reported medical histories of patients with peripartum pelvic pain.

Objectives.: To compile an inventory of the disabilities of patients with peripartum pelvic pain, analyze factors associated with the risk for development of the disease, and to formulate a hypothesis on pathogenesis and specific preventive and therapeutic measures.

Summary of Background Data.: Pregnancy is an important risk factor for development of chronic low back pain. Understanding the pathogenesis of pelvic and low back pain during pregnancy and delivery could be useful in understanding and managing nonspecific low back pain.

Methods.: By means of a questionnaire, background data were collected among patients of the Dutch Association for Patients With Pelvic Complaints in Relation to Symphysiolysis. Results were compared with the general population. Subgroups were compared with each other.

Results.: Peripartum pelvic pain seriously interferes with many activities of daily living such us standing, walking, sitting, and all other activities in which the pelvis is involved. Most patients experience a relapse around menstruation and during a subsequent pregnancy. Occurrence of peripartum pelvic pain was associated with twin pregnancy, first pregnancy, higher age at first pregnancy, larger weight of the baby, forceps or vacuum extraction, fundus expression, and a flexed position of the woman during childbirth; a negative association was observed with cesarean section.

Conclusions.: It is hypothesized that peripartum pelvic pain is caused by strain of ligaments in the pelvis and lower spine resulting from a combination of damage to ligaments (recently or in the past), hormonal effects, muscle weakness, and the weight of the fetus.

From the Musculoskeletal System Research Group of the Departments of *Rehabilitation Medicine, Anatomy, and Biomedical Physics and Technology, Faculty of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Acknowledgment date: January 28, 1995.

First revision date: August 24, 1995.

Acceptance date: September 15, 1995.

Device status category: 11.

Address reprint requests to: J. M. A. Mens, MD; Department of Rehabilitation Medicine; Faculty of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences; Erasmus University Rotterdam; P. O. Box 1738; 3000 DR Rotterdam; The Netherlands

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.