Many studies suggest that impairment of motor control is the mechanical component of the pathogenesis of painful disorders in the lumbo-sacral region; however, this theory is still unproven and the results and recommendations for intervention remain questionable. The need for a force to compress both innominate bones against the sacrum is the basis for treatment of pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PGP). Therefore, it is advised to use a pelvic belt and do exercises to enhance contraction of the muscles which provide this compression. However, our clinical experience is that contraction of those muscles appears to be excessive in PGP. Therefore, in patients with long-lasting pregnancy-related posterior PGP, there is a need to investigate the contraction pattern of an important muscle that provides a compressive force, i.e. the transverse abdominal muscle (TrA), during a load transfer test, such as active straight leg raising (ASLR).
TrA thickness was measured by means of ultrasound imaging at rest and during ASLR in 43 non-pregnant women with ongoing posterior PGP that started during a pregnancy or delivery, and in 39 women of the same age group who had delivered at least once and had no current PGP (healthy controls).
In participants with PGP, the median TrA thickness increase with respect to rest during ipsilateral and contralateral ASLR was 31% (SD 46%) and 31% (SD 57%), respectively. In healthy controls, these values were 11% (SD 25%) and 13% (SD 22%), respectively.
Significant excessive contraction of the TrA is present during ASLR in patients with long-lasting pregnancy-related posterior PGP. The present findings do not support the idea that contraction of the TrA is decreased in long-lasting pregnancy-related PGP. This implies that there is no rationale for the prescription of exercises to enhance contraction of TrA in patients with long-lasting pregnancy-related PGP.