Gutke A.1, Bullington J.2, Lund M.3, Lundberg M.4,5
1University of Gothenburg, Dept of Neuroscience and Physiology, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2Ersta Sköndal University College, Dept of Health Care Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden, 3The City of Gothenburg, Home Care and Rehabilitation, Gothenburg, Sweden, 4Karolinska Institutet, Division of Physiotherapy, Dept of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Stockholm, Sweden, 5Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Dept of Orthopaedics, Gothenburg, Sweden

Background: Pregnancy-related Pelvic Girdle Pain(PGP) is often considered, by both women and professionals, to be a normal consequence of pregnancy and as such to be endured. However, up to 10% of the women still have difficulties performing daily activities and can be unable to return to work years after pregnancy.

Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore how women experience living with long term PGP.

Methods: Nine women with persistent PGP during the course of 2-10 years were recruited by means of purposive sampling from long term follow-up studies. The women were between 32 and 43 years of age and had given birth to 2 to 3 children. Audio-taped in-depth interview with open-ended questions were used with the guiding question “How do you experience living with pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain?” and an interview guide with themes. The Empirical Phenomenological Psychological method was chosen for analysis.

Results: The result indicates that PGP has a profound impact on the women’s everyday life even years after pregnancy. All women described how the PGP still interferes with the ability to perform desired activities. The way in which the pain interferes with the women’s life was analyzed in terms of three constituents: 1) The importance of the body for identity, 2) The understanding of pain, and 3) Stages of change. The ways in which the women’s stories differ were interpreted into two typologies. In the first typology The ongoing struggle against the pain, the women still struggle with how to relate to their aching body. They struggle with their identity when they are not able to do all the things they want to do. Moreover, they are still looking for an explanation of the pain. In the second typologyAdaptation and acceptance, the informants described their life with PGP as a process, where they have gone from a struggle against pain towards adaptation and acceptance. Their changed attitude has led to more successful coping strategies and a higher degree of self-efficacy in relation to their functioning.

Conclusion(s): One group of women was able to adapt to and accept their pain, while the other group was in an ongoing struggle with their pain. The ability to manage ones pain has to do with being able to change ones sense of self and adapt to the limitations of pain. Further research is needed to better understand this process and implement it into rehabilitation.

Implications: To support women with PGP, this study highlights the need for taken into account the meaning of pain for the individual and the way in which persons can transform their changed bodies and identities into well-functioning, adaptive ways of living everyday life.

Funding acknowledgements: no funding recieved

Topic: Women's & men’s pelvic health

Ethics approval: This study was approved by the Ethical Regional Review Board in Linköping, Sweden (No. IMH 2009-00347).

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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