Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is not always a self-limiting condition. Women with more pronounced persistent PGP (PPGP) report poorer health status compared to women with less pronounced symptoms. The knowledge concerning the long-term consequences of PPGP is limited, thus more knowledge in this area is needed. The overall aim was to study the prevalence and predictors of PPGP 12 years after delivery.
This is a long-term follow-up study based on a previous cohort study that commenced in 2002. New questionnaire data 12 years postpartum were collected in 2014 and early 2015. The questionnaire was distributed to a total of 624 women from the initial cohort.
In total, 295 women (47.3%) responded to the questionnaire where 40.3% ( n = 119) reported pain to a various degree and 59% ( n = 174) reported no pain. Increased duration and/or persistency of pain, self-rated health, sciatica, neck and/or thoracic spinal pain, sick leave the past 12 months, treatment sought, and prescription and/or non-prescription drugs used were all associated with an statistically significant increase in the odds of reporting pain 12 years postpartum. Widespread pain was common and median expectation of improvement score was 5 on an 11-point numeric scale (interquartile range 2–7.50). More than one of five women (21.8%) reporting pain stated that they had been on sick leave the past 12 months and nearly 11% had been granted disability pension due to PPGP. No statistically significant differences were found between respondents and non-respondents regarding most background variables.
This study is unique as it is one of few long-term follow-up studies following women with PPGP of more than 11 years. The results show that spontaneous recovery with no recurrences is an unlikely scenario for a subgroup of women with PPGP. Persistency and/or duration of pain symptoms as well as widespread pain appear to be the strongest predictors of poor long-term outcome. Moreover, widespread pain is commonly associated with PPGP and may thus contribute to long-term sick leave and disability pension. A screening tool needs to be developed for the identification of women at risk of developing PPGP to enable early intervention.