JOURNAL ARTICLE

Consensus guidelines for the management of chronic pelvic pain

John F Jarrell, George A Vilos, Catherine Allaire, Susan Burgess, Claude Fortin, Robert Gerwin, Louise Lapensée, Robert H Lea, Nicholas A Leyland, Paul Martyn, Hassan Shenassa, Paul Taenzer, Basim Abu-Rafea
Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada: JOGC, Journal D'obstétrique et Gynécologie du Canada: JOGC 2005, 27 (9): 869-910
19830953

OBJECTIVE: To improve the understanding of chronic pelvic pain (CPP) and to provide evidence-based guidelines of value to primary care health professionals, general obstetricians and gynaecologists, and those who specialize in chronic pain. BURDEN OF SUFFERING: CPP is a common, debilitating condition affecting women. It accounts for substantial personal suffering and health care expenditure for interventions, including multiple consultations and medical and surgical therapies. Because the underlying pathophysiology of this complex condition is poorly understood, these treatments have met with variable success rates.

OUTCOMES: Effectiveness of diagnostic and therapeutic options, including assessment of myofascial dysfunction, multidisciplinary care, a rehabilitation model that emphasizes achieving higher function with some pain rather than a cure, and appropriate use of opiates for the chronic pain state.

EVIDENCE: Medline and the Cochrane Database from 1982 to 2004 were searched for articles in English on subjects related to CPP, including acute care management, myofascial dysfunction, and medical and surgical therapeutic options. The committee reviewed the literature and available data from a needs assessment of subjects with CPP, using a consensus approach to develop recommendations.

VALUES: The quality of the evidence was rated using the criteria described in the Report of the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination. Recommendations for practice were ranked according to the method described in that report (Table 1).

RECOMMENDATIONS: The recommendations are directed to the following areas: (a) an understanding of the needs of women with CPP; (b) general clinical assessment; (c) practical assessment of pain levels; (d) myofascial pain; (e) medications and surgical procedures; (f) principles of opiate management; (g) increased use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); (h) documentation of the surgically observed extent of disease; (i) alternative therapies; (j) access to multidisciplinary care models that have components of physical therapy (such as exercise and posture) and psychology (such as cognitive-behavioural therapy), along with other medical isciplines, such as gynaecology and anesthesia; (k) increased attention to CPP in the training of health care professionals; and (l) increased attention to CPP in formal, high-calibre research. The committee recommends that provincial ministries of health pursue the creation of multidisciplinary teams to manage the condition. CHAPTER 7: MYOFASCIAL DYSFUNCTION: 1. Health care providers should become more aware of myofascial dysfunction as a cause of chronic pelvic pain (CPP) and the available treatment options (IB). 2. Patients should participate in the management of CPP due to myofascial dysfunction by actively using a home stretching and exercise program (ll-2B). CHAPTER 8: MEDICAL THERAPY--EVIDENCE ON EFFECTIVENESS: 1. Opioid therapy can be considered for pain control under adequate supervision (II-3B). 2. Hormonal treatment of chronic pelvic pain of gynaecologic origin, including oral contraceptives, progestins, danazol, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, has been studied extensively and should be considered as the first line for many women, especially those with endometriosis (I and II-1A). 3. Adjuvant medications, such as antidepressants and antibiotics, can be of supporting help in specific situations (II-3B). CHAPTER 9: SURGERY-EVIDENCE ON EFFECTIVENESS: 1. The lack of robust clinical trials of the surgical management of chronic pelvic pain should be addressed. The use of alternative epidemiologic models, including case-controlled and cohort-controlled trials, should be considered (III-A). 2. Further delineation of the role of appendectomy and of presacral neurectomy appears warranted in the management of endometriosis-related pain (III-A). CHAPTER 11: MULTIDISCIPLINARY CHRONIC PAIN MANAGEMENT: 1. Multidisciplinary chronic pain management should be available for women with chronic pelvic pain within the publicly funded health care system in each province and territory of Canada (III-B). CHAPTER 14:

FUTURE DIRECTIONS: 1. The curriculum for professional development should be expanded to include theory and techniques in the management of myofascial dysfunction (A). 2. Research into CPP should be encouraged, particularly in the areas of the impact of CPP on the use of health services, the pathophysiology of myofascial dysfunction, and gene therapy. Because randomized trials for qualitative outcomes are exceedingly difficult, alternative robust models, such as case-controlled or cohort-controlled trials, should be pursued (A). 3. Methods of improving interaction with patients should be explored. They might include formal contractual approaches to managing pain with opiates and efforts to better appreciate the patient's perceived needs (A).

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