Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is a general term for pain and problems with movement of the bones and joints in the pelvis. It includes pubic pain (previously called symphysis pubis dysfunction or SPD) but can include pain anywhere from the lower back, down to the thigh, either at the front or back. It is a very common condition during pregnancy, affecting up to 20% of pregnant women. The pain can range from a mild ache to severe pain that can limit functional activities. It can start at any time during pregnancy, though it is more common later in pregnancy and symptoms can increase as the baby grows. It can also occur in the weeks after giving birth. It is treatable at any stage in pregnancy and the sooner it is treated, the more likely you are to feel better.

What are the symptoms?

The most common complaint is pain in the lower back, pelvis, groin and inner thighs but many women also feel a ‘clicking or grinding’ sensation at the front of the pelvis, and a feeling of instability when walking.

Pain can increase with the following activities:

  • Walking (a waddling gait) or standing long periods
  • Pain when putting weight on one leg, such as climbing stairs.
  • Pain when moving your legs apart, such as getting in and out of the bath/car.
  • Turning in bed
  • Bending and lifting
  • During sex

What are the potential causes of pelvic girdle pain (PGP)?

  • Uneven movement of the joints of the lower back or pelvis
  • Weakening of the abdominals, buttocks, inner thigh and pelvic floor muscles, which puts more stress on the joints of the lower back and pelvis
  • A previous injury of the lower back or pelvis
  • Hypermobility syndrome
  • Occasionally pain can be due to the position of your baby
  • For a small number of women, pain is due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy

What can you do if you have pelvic girdle pain:

  • Don’t push through pain
  • Take smaller steps when walking and walk shorter distances
  • Reduce heavy lifting, pushing and pulling activities such as vacuuming
  • Break up large tasks and rest between activities
  • Keep your knees together when rolling in bed or getting in and out of bed
  • Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs

Use an ice/heat pack on the painful area for 15-20 minutes. Wrap the ice/heat pack so that it is not in direct contact with your skin

The condition is usually diagnosed with a thorough assessment of the pelvic joints and spine by a specialist Pelvic Health Physiotherapist. Physiotherapy treatment may include education about postures (the way you walk and stand), different ways of moving, as well as ways to reduce the stress on your pelvis and joints. They may also do joint and muscle mobilisations and teach you safe exercises to do at home. Sometimes, you may need a pelvic support such as a belt. If you think you are suffering from symptoms of PGP, book an appointment today! 

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