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The Efficacy of a Treatment Program Focusing on Specific Stabilizing Exercises for Pelvic Girdle Pain After Pregnancy: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Stuge, Britt MSc, PT*; Lærum, Even PhD; Kirkesola, Gitle PT; Vøllestad, Nina PhD*

doi: 10.1097/01.BRS.0000090827.16926.1D
Randomized Trial

Study Design.  A randomized controlled trial with stratified block design.

Objectives.  To evaluate a treatment program focusing on whether specific stabilizing exercises for patients with pelvic girdle pain after pregnancy reduce pain, improve functional status, and improve quality of life.

Summary of Background Data.  The evidence of effectiveness of treatment for pelvic girdle pain is weak. Recent research has focused on the importance of activation of muscles for motor control and stability of the lumbopelvic region. To the authors’ knowledge, the efficacy of applying these principles for pelvic girdle pain has not previously been evaluated in a randomized controlled trial.

Methods.  Eighty-one women with pelvic girdle pain were assigned randomly to two treatment groups for 20 weeks. One group received physical therapy with a focus on specific stabilizing exercises. The other group received individualized physical therapy without specific stabilizing exercises. Assessments were administered by a blinded assessor, at baseline, after intervention and 1 year post partum. Main outcome measures were pain, functional status and quality of life.

Results.  There were no dropouts. After intervention and at 1 year post partum, the specific stabilizing exercise group showed statistically and clinically significant lower pain intensity, lower disability, and higher quality of life compared with the control group. Group difference in median values for evening pain after treatment was 30 mm on the Visual Analog Scale. Disability was reduced by more than 50% for the exercise group; changes were negligible in the control group. Significant differences were also observed for physical tests, in favor of the specific exercise group.

Conclusion.  An individualized treatment approach with specific stabilizing exercises appears to be more effective than physical therapy without specific stabilizing exercises for women with pelvic girdle pain after pregnancy.

The effect of specific stabilizing exercises for pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain was evaluated in a randomized controlled trial. Eighty-one women completed a 20-week treatment program. Significantly lower pain intensity, lower disability, and better quality of life were found in the specific exercise group, compared to treatment without stabilizing exercises.

From the *Section for Health Science, University of Oslo; the

†Norwegian Back Pain Network, and

‡S-E-T Kompetanse, Oslo, Norway.

Supported by the Norwegian Foundation for Health and Rehabilitation and the Norwegian Women’s Public Health Association.

Acknowledgment date: September 19, 2002.

Revision date: February 19, 2003.

Acceptance date: March 5, 2003.

The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).

Foundation funds were received in support of this work. No benefits in any form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript.

Address correspondence to Britt Stuge, MSc, PT, Section for Health Science, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1153, Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway. E-mail:

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.