Pregnancy Pelvic Girdle Pain
Author: Katy Mackay
Pregnancy Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints during pregnancy. It’s estimated that between 30-50% of women report PGP before 20 weeks, and approx. 60%-70% reporting PGP by late pregnancy. Of those, about 20% report their symptoms as severe.
Pain can occur in the pubic symphysis (the joint at the pubic bone on the front of your pelvis); one or both of the the sacroiliac joints (at the top of your buttocks at the back) or in all three of these joints. The tailbone may be involved as well.
What Causes PGP?
There is no definitive cause for these joint pains during pregnancy, but it is likely a combination of factors: increased laxity of the joints due to hormonal changes such as increased oestrogen as well as changes to your biomechanics that occur with increased bodyweight and centre of mass. Interestingly, the hormone relaxin is no longer thought to be the primary hormone influencing pelvic joint mobility.
But one thing is certain, it’s not your fault and you’re not alone! Currently, only about 25% of women seek treatment but we are here to help.
Treatment for PGP
There is a lot you can do to reduce the severity of PGP. At Movement Laboratory, we first properly assess the factors contributing to the patient’s pain and formulate a treatment plan accordingly. Treatments include:
- Movement modifications to avoid sheering or overloading the involved joints
- Specific exercises to strengthen or stretch the involved muscles
- Compression garments or belts to provide support
- Manual therapy modalities such as soft tissue release and dry needling
The Australian Pregnancy care guidelines currently suggest:
- Wear low heeled shoes
- Avoid prolonged standing
- Reduce non-essential weightbearing activities
- Avoid standing on one leg (eg. sit down to get dressed, use the elevator instead of stairs etc)
- Apply heat to painful areas
- Avoid hip abduction like spreading legs wide apart (eg modify how you get out of the car by swinging both legs out before standing etc)
Whilst this is useful information, we have to be careful not to avoid moving altogether! Exercise is good for mum and bub. This is why an appropriate, individualised physio plan is what you need to stay as active as you can without worsening your pain. Book in with one of our Women’s Health physios today!