We’re back for another week of pregnancy-related health with qualified physiotherapist, Anna Clayton, this time delving into the topic of pelvic girdle pain…
What Is Pelvic Girdle Pain?
Often shortened to PGP, pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain is a term used to describe pain experienced around the technically-named lumbo-sacral, sacroiliac and symphysis pubis joints. These are joints in the lower back and pelvis, where pain can be triggered by instability or a dysfunction.
Whilst it is quite a common pregnancy-related condition, it is not normal and is usually greatly improved once a diagnosis has been made and treatment has been completed. Luckily, recovery is quick and treatment can be carried out at any time in pregnancy or after birth if symptoms persist.
It is thought that approximately 50-70% women may experience this time of pain during pregnancy. What actually triggers it can be due to a number of different issues, but often it’s a combination of the following: asymmetrical movement of the pelvic girdle joints and/or altered biomechanics around the girdle caused by incorrect activation of the muscles in the back, abdominals, pelvic girdle, hip and pelvic floor.
What Are The Symptoms?
Symptoms that are commonly experienced include problems with walking (a waddle is not unusual!), pain when standing on one leg which can become more noticeable when walking upstairs or putting shoes on. Getting in and out of a car or bath where the leg lifts to the side can also be uncomfortable. Some women have also reported feeling a clicking or grinding sensation in their pelvic area.
What Can You Do About It?
The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Women’s Health (ACPWH) recommends the following management guidelines:
First of all, find out as much about pelvic girdle pain as possible. Pain medication (such as paracetamol) is recommended alongside stronger medications as advised by your GP – although avoiding non-steroidal drugs during pregnancy is advised.
From a functional point of view, although it might sound obvious try to avoid painful movements! Make sure to seek help when needed for carrying or lifting anything, minimise trips up the stairs and rest regularly so that positions don’t become prolonged – causing sustained stretching to ligament structures. Get dressed sitting down and you can even get litter-picker style sock aids from Amazon to help you pop your tights and socks on!
What Will A Women’s Health Physio Help With?
A women’s health specialised physio is a great person to seek out as they will have additional training in pregnancy and all things related to aches and pain in this department. They will be able to look at the bigger picture of your symptoms and how the demands of pregnancy have changed the normal workload on your muscles and joints. Their aim would be to improve your spine and pelvis biomechanics (how they move together), trunk stability and control and also your pelvic floor control.
Techniques may include some manual therapy, gentle mobilisations, stretches and muscle energy techniques. Getting your body moving in the correct pattern is also important; this is motor control and looks at the control of the muscles in the trunk and pelvic floor.
This blog was written by Anna Clayton: Anna works at Bury Physiotherapy Clinic as a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and has recently completed a MSc in Advanced Physiotherapy. She teaches regular Pilates classes including a Pink Pilates; specifically for breast cancer patients. At the clinic she offers patients acupuncture alongside other treatment techniques to help people back to normal day to day activities, sports and hobbies - she is all for functional movement! Anna enjoys keeping fit and active with regular running (the odd half or full marathon), occasional cycling and was a rower and heptathlete in her youth.