Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is characterized by the presence of pain in the posterior pelvic area, distally and laterally to the fifth lumbar vertebra, and/or at the pubic symphysis. PGP is a very common pain condition in women, especially during pregnancy and postpartum. After delivery, pain prevalence decreases to 7 % in the first three months. The current literature describes an association between pelvic girdle pain and different perineal characteristics and symptoms.
A better understanding of perineal structures influence on PGP could assist towards the management of this condition. The aim of this review is to describe the peer-reviewed literature about perineal function in patients with PGP.
A bibliographic search on PubMed was conducted. The key words used were: pelvic girdle pain, pregnacy-related low back pain, lumbopelvic pain, posterior pelvic pain, peripartum pelvic pain, pelvic girdle relaxation, pelvic joint instability, peripartum pelvic pain, sacroiliac joint pain, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, sacroiliac-joint related pelvic pain and pelvic floor. Two hundred and twenty-one (221) articles were identified. Out of them, a total of nine articles were selected. The level of evidence was determined using Oxford's scale.
Patients with PGP showed increased activity of the pelvic floor muscles (P =0.05) (LE3), decreased urogenital hiatus area (PGP 12.4 cm2±2.7, control 13.7 cm2±2.8, P =0.015) (LE3), shorter endurance time (PGP 17.8 s; control 54.0 s, P =0.00) (LE3), significantly later onset time during affected side leg elevation (PGP 25ms, control −129ms, P =0.01) (LE3), levator ani and obturator internus tenderness (PGP 25/26; control 5/25, P <0.001) (LE3) and a higher prevalence of vesico-sphincteric disorders compared to asymptomatic subjects (LE3).
This review confirms that subjects suffering PGP present particular perineal characteristics regarding morphology and biomechanics. It would be interesting to develop clinical research concerning pelvic floor release effect in PGP.