Touching Lives - March 2003
New findings on chronic pain following childbirth
There is no agreement as to the underlying cause of this condition and treatment is inadequate. A team of researchers funded by Action Medical Research at St Thomas’ Hospital, London has been concentrating on the role of the joint at the front of the pelvis, which widens slightly during pregnancy and labour.
They believe that ^if this gap fails to close after childbirth then the patient may be left with instability of the pelvis^ and, consequently, pain. The team, headed by Professor Heatley, has studied a group of patients suffering from chronic pelvic pain to understand more about the condition and the best ways of treating it.
A combination of bed rest, physiotherapy, pelvic support belts and painkillers is the current treatment. In extreme cases, surgery may be considered and the researchers set out to gain a clearer understanding of who may benefit from surgery.
An important conclusion made by the researchers was that surgery may help patients with mild or moderate pain but those with severe symptoms and disability do not appear to benefit from this form of treatment. These findings will help clinical understanding and treatment of this painful disorder.