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Man Ther. 2006 Nov;11(4):337-43. Epub 2006 Jan 9.

To treat or not to treat postpartum pelvic girdle pain with stabilizing exercises?

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Section for Health Science, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1153, Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway.


Women with pelvic girdle pain (PGP) often consult physical therapists for help and are treated with different therapies without firm evidence for the effectiveness. Two randomized controlled trials have investigated the effect of stabilizing exercises for PGP. The most recent study demonstrated significant positive results in favour of exercises (Stuge et al. The efficacy of a treatment program focusing on specific stabilizing exercises for pelvic girdle pain after pregnancy. A randomized controlled trial. Spine 2004a;29(10):351-9), the other did not (Mens et al. Diagonal trunk muscle exercises in peripartum pelvic pain: a randomized clinical trial. Phys. Ther. 2000;80(12):1164-73). Consequently, the two studies provide contradictory advice for treatment of PGP. The question is thus, whether stabilizing exercises should be recommended as treatment for PGP. Both the studies are of high methodological quality and are comparable with regard to subjects studied. However, there are several differences in the interventions and these are explored and discussed for better understanding of the conflicting results. Exercises that focused on only global muscles showed no effect. However, these exercises were not individualized and they were instructed by videotape. In the more recent study, exercises that initially focused on local muscles, and then gradually added global muscles showed a significant, positive effect. Exercises in that study were supervised, corrected, individualized concerning choice of exercises, order and dosage, and pain was avoided. This comparison indicates that effective treatment of postpartum PGP may be achieved when exercises for the entire spinal musculature are included, individually guided and adapted to each individual.

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