CLINICAL TESTS FOR THE ASSESSMENT OF THE PELVIC GIRDLE PAIN IN PREGNANCY AND POSTPARTUM
Background: Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PGP) refers to the pain in the lumbosacral region, the sacroiliac joints and the symphysis pubis joint. The results of the high methodological quality studies indicate that the point prevalence of pregnant women suffering from PGP is about 20 %. Pregnancy-related PGP requires a comprehensive physiotherapy assessment in order to make or confirm a diagnosis, plan the treatment and evaluate the patient’s condi- tion. Physiotherapy assessment includes clinical diagnostic tests which should satisfy the criteria of safety, feasibility, reliability, sensitivity, specificity and validity. The aim of the present paper was to systematically review the literature on clinical diagnostic tests of PGP in order to determine which clinical tests meet the necessary criteria and are appropriate for clinical examination of PGP in pregnancy and postpartum.
Methods: PubMed, Cinahl, Embase, Index Medicus databases and the Cochrane controlled trials reg- ister from 1980 to 2008 were searched using the key words, pregnancy/pelvic girdle pain, pregnancy/clinical tests/sacroiliac joint/symphysis pubis. Only the articles/texts in English and Slovene were reviewed unless translated abstract was available. Additional manual searches of the reference lists in books and review articles were undertaken. Along with the randomized clinical studies the literature search encompassed also the basic studies.
Results: Nine studies evaluating the tests for clinical examination of the pregnancy-related PGP met the criteria for inclusion in this review. The studies evaluated and analysed six provocation tests for the sacroiliac joint, namely, the Posterior pelvic pain provocation test (P4), Patrick’s Faber test, palpation of the long dorsal ligament, compression test, separation test, Menell’s test as well as two provocation tests for the symphysis pubis joint (pain palpation and a modified Trendelenburg test) and one functional pelvic girdle test to assess the impairment (Active Straight Leg Raise –ASRL). The tests exemplifying the highest level of specificity and reliability to identify the pain in the sacroiliac joint proved to be the Posterior pelvic pain provocation test, Patrick’s Faber test and the palpation of the long dorsal ligament of the sacroiliac joint. According to the studies, the palpation and a modified Trendelenburg test are most appropriate to identify the pain, abnormalities and symphysis pubis asymmetries. The active straight leg raise is recommended as a functional test of the pelvic girdle.
Conclusions: PGP can be diagnosed by pain provocation tests and pain palpation tests. Most of the evalu- ated tests have a very high specificity indicating that, if negative, it is likely that a patient does not suffer from pain in the pelvic girdle during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. The sensitivity is, however, lower. It is therefore recommended to perform all the tests, not to rule out PGP, if one test is negative. All the recommended tests are simple to carry out and appropriate for clinical examination of pregnancy-related PGP.
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