What Is Pelvic Girdle Pain?

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP), also known as Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction (SPD) is pain, instability and dysfunction at the symphysis pubic joint and/or the sacro-iliac joints of the pelvis.

It affects up to 1 in 5 women during pregnancy, most commonly after the first trimester but can occur at any stage of pregnancy and also affects some women after they have had their baby.

Symptoms of Pelvic Girdle Pain

The main symptom of PGP is pain which can occur in the symphysis pubic joint at the front of the pelvis or the sacroiliac iliac joints at the back and also in the hips, groin, buttock, thighs and lower back. It can often be experienced as pain on walking or climbing stairs and difficulty with everyday activities such as turning in bed, getting in and out of the car and standing for any length of time.

Causes of Pelvic Girdle Pain in Pregnancy

Whilst the inherent hormonal changes of pregnancy and increasing demand on the spine and pelvis can have an impact on PGP not every pregnant woman suffers with this condition. The underlying cause is normally considered to be asymmetric function of the joints and muscles of the lower back hips and pelvis. This can often be related to previous injury but sometimes this is not immediately obvious.

Getting Relief: Practical Tips

As with several pregnancy related symptoms, PGP need not necessarily be suffered without some help. A combination of manual therapy and practical suggestions can provide some relief. The following advice can be useful for managing the symptoms:

Limit time spent standing, for example try dressing siting down, ironing siting down, delegate activities that cannot be performed sitting down such as washing up

Explore ways of moving which avoid straddling the legs, for example when getting out of the car keep the knees together and as much as possible move the legs in one piece. When turning in bed keep the knees together and squeeze the buttocks or try turning under rather than over

Experiment with climbing stairs one at a time leading with the most comfortable leg and bringing the other to join

Take time to rest

Stay active and mobile within the limits of pain

Try wearing a Sacroiliac belt which can give support to the joints of the pelvis

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy including Osteopathy and Physiotherapy can provide some relief from the aches and pains arising during pregnancy. An Osteopath will aim to understand and treat the cause of the pain and other symptoms. In the case of PGP in pregnant women an osteopathic approach would involve looking at the pelvis as a unit and assessing how the mechanics of the numerous joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons are functioning in relation to each other. Treatment would aim to release any tension and strain in the tissues and improve integrated function of the whole. This would also include looking at the entire spine and considering any past injury as well as the unique mechanical demands of pregnancy and of caring for a new born baby. Osteopathic management would also involve advice to help you adjust to ways of moving which limit the strain on affected joints.

To find out more about how Osteopathy or Physiotherapy might support you through your pregnancy call us at Walnut Grove Clinic. We have several experienced practitioners who would be happy to discuss your individual situation and provide further information on the phone.

Esther Barton BSc (Hons) Ost
Registered Osteopath
Walnut Grove
01275 818303