Pregnancy is a time of many changes and aches and pains as your baby develops. Pelvic girdle pain is something you might experience.
Aches and pain are generally normal for women to experience during pregnancy. Your uterus expands to accommodate your growing baby, your breasts fill with milk and become sore and sensitive, and you may have back pain from time to time. Another common form of pain during pregnancy is pelvic girdle pain.
What Is Pelvic Girdle Pain?
Pelvic girdle pain, also commonly referred to as PGP, relates to pain in the pelvic region during pregnancy. Pain may radiate not only in the pelvic area but also in the lower back and down to the thighs. A woman might experience pain in the front or back of her pelvic area and can range from a dull ache to more severe pain that can adversely affect your regular activities.
PGP can strike anytime during a woman’s pregnancy, including during labor. In some cases, it’s possible to even experience it after the birth of your baby.
Overall, this is a common problem that affects one out of five pregnant women. While it doesn’t affect your unborn baby, it can be debilitating in severe cases and can negatively affect your life in more than one way. In addition to the pain itself and the limitation of your ability to perform everyday tasks, pelvic PGP can also cause you to feel depressed.
Causes of PGP
When the three pelvic joints don’t move evenly, it can result in pelvic girdle pain. As your baby grows inside you, there is more strain on these joints, resulting in their not moving concurrently. The condition is also more common in women who have previously had a back or pelvis injury.
Symptoms of PGP
The pain associated with PGP can range from mild to severe. No matter the level of pain you experience, your symptoms will improve with treatment. Generally, symptoms are more commonly experienced in the later stages of pregnancy and include the following:
- An ache or pain in the pelvic area, lower back, thighs, hips, groin, or knees
- A noticeable sound of clicking in the pelvic area
- Pain that worsens with a variety of movements, such as walking on uneven surfaces, spreading your knees, climbing, rolling over while in bed, or during sex
Options for Alleviating Symptoms of PGP
There are certain things you can do by yourself that may help alleviate the symptoms:
- Stay active, but make sure to get enough rest as well.
- Stand straight with your belly and butt slightly tucked in.
- Shift your position often and avoid sitting for longer than half an hour.
- Sit down to dress and undress.
- Keep your weight equally distributed on both legs while standing.
- Keep your legs together when getting into or out of a car.
- Sleep on your less painful side.
- Keep your knees together while turning over in bed.
- Place a pillow under your belly and between your legs in bed for support.
- Avoid heavy lifting.
- Don’t use the stairs often..
- Avoid twisting, bending or stooping.
- Don’t sit on the floor.
- Don’t stand for too long.
- Avoid placing more weight on one leg.
- Avoid crossing your legs while sitting.
Treatments for PGP
Visiting your primary doctor or OB/GYN immediately after experiencing pelvic girdle pain is advised. Once you have been diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe seeing a physical therapist who can offer treatment to curb your pain.
Treatment options include the following:
- Manual therapy to help with movement.
- Exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor, back, hip, and stomach.
- Water therapy
- Electrical stimulation
- Providing equipment like a pelvic support belt or crutches (if necessary).
Usually, your symptoms will fully improve after your baby is born, but physical therapy can help better manage the pain of PGP.
It’s important to remember that pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy is very common. However, at the same time, it’s not considered normal. You should speak with your doctor immediately upon noticing any of the symptoms associated with it. The sooner you do that, the sooner you can receive treatment and feel better.