Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is common, affecting 1 in 5 pregnant women, and can affect your mobility and quality of life during and after pregnancy. Pain when you are walking, climbing stairs, and turning over in bed are all common symptoms of PGP.
However, early diagnosis, treatment and advice from a specialist Osteopath can relieve your pain, and help prevent symptoms continuing after your baby is born. Osteopathy treatment is safe at any stage during or after pregnancy.
What is PGP?
Pelvic Girdle Pain is the general term for all pelvic pain. It can be in the front of your pelvis (Symphysis Pubis) or the back (Sacroiliac Joints or in short SIJ), and can also affect other areas such as the buttocks, hips or thighs.
Symptoms can range from a mild ache to severe pain that limits daily activities, and may start at any time during pregnancy, labour or in the weeks after giving birth.
What causes PGP?
The three joints of the pelvis (Symphysis Pubis at the front and Sacroiliac Joints on either side at the back) work together to stabilise the pelvis, and are normally able to move only very slightly.
PGP is thought to be caused by the joints moving excessively and / or unevenly, which can lead to the pelvic girdle becoming less stable and therefore painful. As the baby grows in the womb, the extra weight and the change in the way you sit or stand will all add to the strain on your pelvis.
You are more likely to have PGP if you’ve had back and/or pelvic pain previously, if you’ve injured your pelvis in the past or if you have hypermobility syndrome. Muscle weakness or imbalance in the back and pelvis at the beginning of pregnancy could also contribute to symptoms.
Could PGP affect my baby?
No. Although it may be painful for you, it will not have an effect on your baby.
What are the symptoms?
Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy (POGP) highlight the following common signs and
- Difficulty walking (a waddling gait).
- Pain when putting weight on one leg, such as climbing stairs.
- Pain and/or difficulty in straddle movements, such as getting in and out of the bath.
- Clicking or grinding in the pelvic area.
- Limited and painful hip abduction. Hip abduction is the movement of the leg away from the middle of the body, such as when you step to the side or get out of a car.
- Difficulty lying in some positions, such as on your side.
- Pain during normal activities and/or pain during sex.
- Symptoms can increase through pregnancy as the baby grows.
How can we help?
At Meadowside Osteopathy we have specially trained and highly experienced osteopaths who can help you with Pelvic Girdle Pain. We can support you throughout your pregnancy and following the birth of your baby with hands-on treatment, advice and tailored exercise prescription.
An osteopathic treatment plan will include:
- Hands-on treatment to gently mobilise the joints back into their optimal position and help them move normally again.
- Advice on the best positions for movement and rest, and how to pace your activities to lessen your pain.
- Exercises to help relieve your pain and allow you to move around more easily.
- Prescribed routines to strengthen your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, to improve your balance and posture, and make your spine more stable.
- Help in finding the strategies most suitable for you to relieve your symptoms such as warm baths, heat or ice packs, support belts or crutches, and others.
For most women, early diagnosis and treatment will stop symptoms from getting worse, relieve your pain and help you continue with your normal everyday activities. It is therefore important that you are seek treatment early.
Pelvic girdle pain is not something you just have to ‘put up with’ until your baby is born.
What happens after the birth of my baby?
PGP usually improves after birth, although around 1 in 10 women will have ongoing pain. If this is the case for you, it’s important that you continue to receive treatment, follow advice and take regular pain relief. If you’ve been using aids such as crutches or a belt, keep using them until the pain settles down.
Useful links and Resources
The Pelvic Partnership
The Pelvic Partnership is a charity dedicated to providing support and information about Pelvic Girdle Pain. They provide masses of useful information including practical tips, advice during labour and effective treatment for PGP, which includes osteopathy!
Pelvic Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy
Royal College Obstetrics and Gynaecologists
Your friendly local Osteopath 🙂
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We would love to help.
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Wu WH, Meijer OG, Uegaki K, Mens JM, Van Dieen JH, Wuisman PI, Östgaard HC. Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PPP), I: Terminology, clinical presentation, and prevalence. European Spine Journal. 2004 Nov 1;13(7):575-89.
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