How to Treat Pelvic Girdle Pain

How to treat pelvic girdle pain

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is a common symptom in pregnancy. Known more generally as pelvic pain, it ranges from annoying twinges to debilitating discomfort, leaving you unable to move. Affecting up to 1 in 5 women in pregnancy, it’s essential to know how to treat pelvic pain.

Here’s everything you need to know…

What is pelvic girdle pain?

Pelvic girdle pain refers to any pain occurring from the lower back down to the thighs in the back or front. The pain can be a mild ache or severe pain limiting your daily activities. You’ll sometimes see PGP referred to as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SGD) – it’s the exact same thing.

You’ll often notice PGP worsens with movement, like climbing stairs, walking, or turning over in bed. If severe, it can impact a woman’s emotional and mental health. It’s, therefore, essential to seek a diagnosis and treatment if you’re struggling. Your doctor or midwife will know how to treat your pelvic pain.

What are the signs of pelvic girdle pain?

Depending on your body, how far you are into your pregnancy, and other factors, you’ll notice different signs and symptoms.
Women with PGP may notice:

  • Difficulty walking (a waddling gait)
  • Pain when getting out of the bath, during normal activities, during sex, or putting weight on one leg
  • Clicking or grinding in the pelvic region
  • Discomfort when lying on their side
  • Reduced or painful hip abduction, e.g., when stepping out of a car.

If you notice any of these symptoms, speak to your midwife about possible treatments. Symptoms tend to worsen throughout pregnancy as the baby grows.

Why does it happen?

During pregnancy, the pelvic joints become stiff or less stable. The pelvis is formed by three bones fused together – when they move unevenly, these joints can become inflamed or painful. In addition, the baby presses on the pelvic structures as it grows and shifts position, leading to a dull ache or even severe pain.

Previous pelvic trauma, a history of lower back, pelvic girdle or joint pain, and/or hypermobility syndrome also increases the risk of PGP. It can be difficult to understand why some women develop PGP and not others.

Almost all women who experience PGP will go on to have a normal vaginal birth.

How to treat pelvic girdle pain?

Learning how to treat pelvic pain means seeking help early. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you can enact changes to relieve your pain or stop it from getting worse.

Common treatments include:

  • Pelvic and abdominal exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles
  • Manual therapy by a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or osteopath to help mobilise the joints and get them to move normally again. (You should not feel any pain during treatment.)
  • Hydrotherapy is beneficial, as is exercising in water
  • Taking warm baths or using heat or ice packs can relieve your discomfort temporarily
  • Using a support belt or crutch
  • Acupuncture can work in some cases
  • Wear flat or supportive shoes

If your pain does not subside with treatment, speak to your midwife or doctor. Find out what pain medication you can take safely. They may also recommend alternative therapies like hypnosis, or meditation.

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