An International Survey of Commonly Used Interventions for Management of Pelvic Pain

J Womens Health Phys Therap. 2019 Apr-Jun;43(2):82-88. doi: 10.1097/jwh.0000000000000131.


Background: Pelvic pain (PP) is a debilitating condition that is challenging to manage. Despite differences in suspected etiologies of different PP conditions, common clinical signs and symptoms make it appropriate to group these diagnoses. The presence of neuro-musculoskeletal impairments in PP suggests that physical therapists are ideally situated to be included as part of the health care team managing this condition; however, little information is available to guide physical therapist management of PP.

Objectives: As a first step to developing management guidelines, we sought to determine common interventions currently used by physical therapists to manage PP.

Study design: Descriptive survey.

Methods: A modified Delphi approach was used to identify broad categories of interventions that were then used to build a survey. Purposeful selection with snowball recruiting methods was used to collect responses from practitioners. Frequency data were collected for survey responses. Chi-square analysis determined associations among responses based on practitioner training.

Results: A total of 984 responses from 17 different countries were analyzed. The primary responses were from physical therapists in the USA and Canada. The majority of respondents were board-certified clinical specialists. More than 80% of physical therapist respondents indicated that they "frequently used" education, exercise, and manual therapy for patients with PP. The most common interventions considered effective but not frequently used were cognitive-behavioral therapy, dry needling, acupuncture, topical medications, and internal pelvic manual therapy techniques. Geographical differences in patterns of usespecific manual therapy and exercise interventions were noted. Differences were also noted on the basis of the levels of advanced postprofessional training.

Conclusion: Physical therapists routinely use education, manual therapy, and exercise to manage pelvic pain conditions.

Keywords: pelvic pain; physiotherapy; rehabilitation; treatment.