Pelvic Girdle Pain in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an amazing time in a woman’s life, but it can be difficult for some women to cope with the physical changes that occur. One of these changes is Pelvic Girdle Pain or PGP.

Women often experience pelvic pain during pregnancy, but it can be hard to know when the pain is normal and when you should seek help.  Women who are overly concerned about the pain may need to be referred to a Women’s Health Physiotherapist for diagnosis and treatment.

Women who engage in early treatment with Women’s Health Physiotherapy are more likely to recover well, be able to manage pain, and will have made significant gains in strength and flexibility.

Women experiencing mild cases of PGP will be able to manage their symptoms at home with self-management techniques.

Many of these issues don’t go away entirely until the baby is born.

What is Pelvic Girdle Pain?

Pelvic Girdle Pain or PGP is a common condition experienced by many women during their pregnancies. It is estimated around 50% of women will experience some degree of PGP during pregnancy. Thankfully, around 90% of women will experience recovery from PGP within the first 12 months following birth. 

Pelvic Girdle Pain

What causes pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy?

PGP often occurs due to an increase in pressure around the pelvic region caused by her growing baby as well as changes in the mother’s centre of mass and load transfer.

As the baby grows, the abdominal muscles begin to stretch and as they do, they become less effective at contracting and stabilising around the pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles also start to take more load and may also become less able to support structures and efficient load transfer as the pregnancy and growth progresses. 

What does pelvic girdle pain feel like in pregnancy?

PGP is typically characterised by pain in the back of the pelvis or low back, pain on either side of the pelvis, and/or pain in the pubic symphysis at the front of the pelvis. Pain may even radiate into the gluteal area, lower abdomen, inner thigh, around the groin, and even into the back of the thigh and leg (which can be mistaken for sciatica). 

This condition is often misrepresented as instability or laxity in pelvic joints; while there is some degree of increased movement in the pelvic joints during pregnancy to facilitate birth, in the vast majority of PGP cases, there is no ‘instability’ around those extremely stable pelvic joints.

In many cases, simple modifications to a woman’s daily activities, footwear, environment as well as addressing strength deficits or areas of weakness can help to make PGP more manageable.  

How can I reduce pelvic girdle pain?

Most women who experience mild cases of PGP will be able to manage their symptoms at home with self-management techniques.

Women should focus on spending time mobilising and stretching in positions of comfort, such as: Rocking the hips (back and forth) and pelvic tilts (pressing the small of the back into a firm surface or pillow); Spending time doing gentle exercises that support the pelvis; Knees to chest stretch – pulling both knees to your chest at once can feel great; Groin stretches – gently stretching away from your body is also pleasant (for example, leaning over a bed or sofa to reach something on the floor).

Is walking good for pelvic girdle pain?

Women with PGP often find it difficult to walk. Walking can put a lot of strain on the joints, especially if you do it for an extended amount of time. For many pregnant women, walking might make their joints sore at any point during or after their walk.

Walking in a shopping centre is the same as going for a walk for exercise. Your physiotherapist will be able to advise you on whether you can go for walks and how much walking is appropriate for you.

When should I be concerned about pelvic pain during pregnancy?

Early diagnosis is key to avoiding long-term discomfort.  If you notice pain around your pelvic area, tell your midwife, doctor or obstetrician.  Women should also seek advice if their pain does not improve after 3-4 weeks of self-management. Women who are overly concerned about the pain may need to be referred to a Women’s Health Physiotherapist for diagnosis and treatment.

Ask a member of your health team for a recommendation for a physiotherapist that is knowledgeable in treating pelvic joint disorders.

Many of these issues don’t go away entirely until the baby is born, but treatment from an expert can significantly decrease discomfort during pregnancy.

Can a physio help with pelvic girdle pain?

Your Physiotherapist can assist you to find the solution to reducing your pelvic girdle pain and help you to maintain your strength and fitness while pregnant.   Women who engage in early treatment with Women’s Health Physiotherapy are more likely to recover well, be able to manage pain, and will have made significant gains in strength and flexibility.

Pelvic Girdle Pain

Final Thoughts on Pelvic Girdle Pain

Women who get treated early by a physiotherapist are more likely to recover, be able to manage pain, and experience substantial improvement in strength and mobility.

A Women’s Health Physiotherapist can assist you in finding solutions that reduce your pelvic girdle pain as well as help you maintain strength and fitness while pregnant by engaging in early treatment.

Pelvic Girdle Pain is common during pregnancy but it doesn’t have to hinder the quality of life or mobility throughout this wonderful time!If you’re experiencing pelvic girdle pain during your pregnancy, don’t suffer in silence. Make a booking today and start your treatment with one of our Women’s Health Physiotherapists. You’ll be glad you did!

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