Characteristics of women with chronic pelvic pain referred to physiotherapy treatment after multidisciplinary assessment: a cross-sectional study
Methods - We collected cross-sectional data from 62 women with CPP aged 20–65 (mean age 38.0), referred to physiotherapy after assessment by medical specialists. Data were collected by semi-structured interviews for demographic variables and medical history, and self-administered questionnaires on pain intensity, sexual function, urinary incontinence (UI), anal incontinence (AI), obstructed defecation syndrome (ODS), subjective health complaints (SHC) and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Results - Pain duration of more than 10 years was reported by 42%, mean pain score was 4.7/10, and analgesics were used weekly by 48%. Previous pelvic or abdominal surgery was reported by 71%, and sick leave >12 weeks the last year by 34%. Reduced sexual desire was reported by 78%, dyspareunia by 73%, UI by 54%, AI by 23%, and obstructed defecation syndrome (ODS) by 34%. More than 90% reported musculoskeletal or pseudoneurologic complaints. Anxiety and depression scores defined as requiring treatment were reported by 40%. Abuse was reported by 50%, and associated with significantly more reports of ODS (p=0.02), more SHC (p=0.02) and higher anxiety scores (p=0.009). Analgesic use and sick leave were significantly higher both among women with a history of abuse (p=0.04 and p=0.005) and among those with previous surgery (p=0.04 and p=0.02). Women with previous surgery reported significantly lower pain intensity during intercourse than those without previous surgery (p=0.008).
Conclusions - Women with CPP have complex symptoms and high scores for both physical and psychological complaints. Women exposed to abuse have especially high scores related to analgesic use, sick leave, ODS, anxiety and SHC. Women with previous surgery report more analgesic use and sick leave, and lower pain intensity during intercourse, than those without previous surgery.
Implications - This study illustrates the complexity of CPP and highlights the need for health professionals to have specialized knowledge of the possible features of the condition. Previous abuse seems to be more associated with poor scores on several health outcomes than surgery, but this needs to be investigated further.