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Pelvic Girdle Pain in Pregnancy: A Review.

IMPORTANCE: Pelvic girdle pain is often thought to be a recent phenomenon, but this condition was described as early as 400 BC by Hippocrates. Despite being identified for years, confusion continues about the definition and management of this ailment affecting many pregnancies.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the review is to assess the incidence, etiology, pathophysiology, risk factors, diagnosis, management, and pregnancy outcomes/recovery of current pregnancies, and outcomes of future pregnancies complicated by pelvic girdle pain.

EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: Electronic databases (PubMed and Embase) were searched from 1980 to 2021 with the only limitation being that the articles were in English. Studies were selected that examined associations between pelvic pain/pelvic girdle pain and pregnancy.

RESULTS: There were 343 articles identified. After reviewing the abstracts, 88 were used in this review. Pelvic girdle pain is a common condition of pregnancy, affecting a reported 20% of pregnant women. The pathophysiology is poorly understood and likely multifactorial, involving both hormonal and biomechanical changes that occur during pregnancy. Several risk factors have been identified. This diagnosis is most commonly made based on symptoms related to pelvic pain during pregnancy. Treatment should be multimodal, including pelvic girdle support, stabilizing exercises, analgesia, and potentially complementary therapies. The effects on future pregnancies are uncertain, although some limited information suggests an increased risk of recurrent PGP in subsequent pregnancies.

CONCLUSIONS: Pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy is a common condition that is often overlooked as a normal part of pregnancy but has a significant impact on quality of life during, after, and in subsequent pregnancies. Multimodal therapies are available and are largely low cost and noninvasive.

RELEVANCE: Our aim is to increase the awareness of pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy as a common but often underdiagnosed and undertreated condition.

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