The aches and pains of pregnancy are well known to any expectant mother and although pain is a common part of pregnancy as the body begins to change and grow, it is important to know the ways to help manage and treat discomfort to ensure the safest and most comfortable pregnancy as possible.
Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is a collective term used to describe pain in and around the pelvis which is independent and different to pain felt in and referred from the lower back. Pelvic girdle pain may also be described as SIJ pain or sacroiliac pain. Pelvic pain is most common in pregnancy but can also be experienced after trauma or during the postnatal period. The pain can range from mild and intermittent to constant and disabling pain, making it important that people have an accurate diagnosis and treatment to prevent and manage symptoms.
The causes of pelvic girdle pain are thought to be multifactorial in nature and can be related to a person’s genetic, hormonal, psychological and biomechanical make up. Those who are at higher risk of PGP are those who had pelvic pain or lower back pain during their previous pregnancies or prior to, those who participate in physically demanding workloads, smokers and those with high levels of emotional distress. It is believed that as the uterus grows it places more stress on the lower back and pelvis. This increased load in combination with a changed centre of gravity and hormonal changes results in altered mechanical forces at the pelvis which can lead to pain and discomfort.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Pain in the pelvis – one side or both.
- Pain with walking, steps and stairs, getting up from sitting.
- Difficulty sleeping or lying on one side without pain.
- Difficulty and pain with rolling over in bed.
A diagnosis of PGP is based on a range of clinical tests and a thorough subjective history, this can be completed by a Physiotherapist, GP, Midwife or Obstetrician. Imaging and further medical tests are not usually indicated.
Treatment and management:
The treatment and management of pelvic girdle pain is dependent on the severity and contributing factors to the condition. Treatment is usually conservative in nature and can include activity modification, support belts and shorts, manual therapy to release tight muscles and exercises. Women’s health physiotherapy for the pelvic floor can also be very important for pelvic pain to address any issues related to the pelvic floor which may contribute to pain.
Exercises which focus on strength around the pelvis are important to help manage and treat pelvic pain and can also prevent symptoms from worsening during pregnancy.
If you have pelvic pain, come and see one of our experienced Physiotherapists at Bend + Mend here in the Sydney CBD.