Close to 1 in 5 women during their pregnancy will experience pain around their pelvis. This is the most common form of musculoskeletal pain seen during the prenatal period and can occasionally follow women through into the postnatal period. The most common symptoms of pelvic girdle pain include pain at the front and/or back of the pelvis as well as pain in the lower back, hips, groin, down the thighs or into the knees.
This pelvic girdle pain (PGP) varies between individuals, however can extend from a small niggle to a severe impact on a woman’s mobility and quality of life. Onset of this pelvic pain is typically around the 2nd or 3rd trimester, however for some, these symptoms can appear within the 1st trimester.
The most common myth with pelvic girdle pain is the description of an ‘unstable’ pelvis. Your pelvic ring is comprised of two joints at the back – your left and right sacroiliac joints and one joint at the front - your pubic symphysis. These joints are strong and are reinforced by a close boney fit with a large network of ligaments reinforcing these joints. It takes an immense amount of force to damage these structures to the point of instability such as a high speed car accident.
The common daily activities which can set off this pain are typically tasks which load one side of the pelvis more than the other. This includes walking, rolling in bed, getting in/out of car, climbing stairs. To date, little is known about the primary prevention of low back and pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy.
Although there is no cure for PGP during your pregnancy, specific physiotherapy treatment can help to relieve pain and symptoms, prevent it from getting worse and assist in a quicker recovery after the birth of your baby. Treatments could include, but are not limited to, massage and stretching of tight structures, joint mobilisation, taping, posture training, core and pelvic girdle strengthening, and pain management advice.
There may be other things you can modify in your day to day activities to help manage your pain levels too. This includes:
- Wear a pregnancy belt (if assessed as appropriate)
- Stand with even weight on each foot (not hanging off one hip)
- Minimise lifting of your children, try to encourage independence where possible
- Accept help from friends and family when needed
- Take smaller steps when walking and wear supportive footwear
- Use one or two pillows between your knees in bed
- Avoid aggravating activities such as vacuuming
- Take your time going up stairs (two feet to a step)
- Apply a cold or heat pack (whichever provides you with the most comfort). Ensure a protective layer between you and the heat/cold therapy
Not one specific form of exercise has found to be universally effective in the management of pelvic girdle pain, however it is encouraged that you stay active with some low impact exercise. You are able to go for short walks, so long as this does not increase your pain. You may, however, find more comfort in activities such as swimming or Clinical Pilates.
If you are experiencing low back or pelvic girdle pain during your pregnancy, you can book with one of our physiotherapists online or contact the clinic on 5334 1113.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and is used for educational purposes only. If you are having pain or health related complaints, please seek out a licensed healthcare professional.