While pregnancy can bring many joys, pelvic girdle pain is certainly not one of them! This can be a painful and uncomfortable condition, affecting movement, rest and sleep. Leonora Kennedy, chartered physiotherapist at Mid West Physiotherapy, is an advanced pregnancy wellness practitioner who is experienced in the area of pelvic girdle pain. She has put together this information for you to help you to understand the condition and what to do to relieve it.
What is pelvic girdle pain?
Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PGP) can occur at any stage during pregnancy or during the postpartum period. It is characterised by pain at the front of the pubic bone, pain in the groin area or pain into the buttocks.
With PGP you may find normal day-to-day activities difficult; for example, walking, getting up from a chair, getting in and out of the car, pushing a buggy or shopping trolley, going up and down stairs or lifting your toddler. This pain can be mild, moderate or severe in nature and can also fluctuate at different times during your pregnancy.
Why does it happen?
There were previous theories that PGP was caused by misalignment of your pelvis or increased ligament laxity during pregnancy. However, these theories have been disproved (Walters et al, 2018; Dufour and Brittal, 2018). In fact, your pelvis is a very stable structure.
PGP is primarily caused by movement patterns during pregnancy; your body goes through postural changes during pregnancy, this changes how your muscles work, which can put a strain on how your hips, pelvis and back. This is turn can cause pain (Stuge, 2012).
More recent evidence has shown that other factors can affect PGP (Smith et al, 2017; Dufour & Brittal, 2018). These include:
- Increases in stress and how we cope with stress
- Sleep quality
- Energy levels
What to do if you experience it?
There are many things that can help with PGP:
- Figure out the movements that cause you pain and try to adapt how you do them or when you do them
- Trying gentle stretches and strengthening exercises specific to you
- Management of stress levels
- Support garments or belts.
Benefits of physiotherapy
A musculoskeletal physiotherapist will be able to assess your pain and movement, and identify any musculoskeletal factors that could be causing your pelvic girdle pain, such as areas of tightness or weakness. Your physiotherapist will explain what is causing your pain and/or discomfort and will provide appropriate advice and treatment such as; soft tissue massage, stretching and strengthening exercises, support garments and belts and lifestyle advice.
We’re Here to Help
If you would like to book an appointment with Leonora Kennedy to treat pelvic girdle pain, she would be delighted to help you. If you are post-partum, you are very welcome to your baby along to your appointment (we love seeing little babies!) and you can feed as and when your baby needs.
You can book online here, or alternatively you can ring our Reception on 061-201444. Best wishes and we hope you feel better soon.
The HSE has an excellent guide on pelvic girdle pain which you can read here.
Walters, C., West, S. and Nippita, T.A., 2018. Pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy. Australian journal of general practice, 47(7), p.439.
Stuge, B., 2012. Pelvic girdle pain: examination, treatment, and the development and implementation of the European guidelines. Journal of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Womens Health, 111, p.5.
Dufour, S. and Brittal, S., 2018. Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain: embrace