Pelvic pain is experienced by approximately one in five pregnant women, and is typically described as pain in the pelvic, hip or back joints during or after pregnancy. It is sometimes called pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PRPGP) or pubic symphysis dysfunction (PSD).
These problems tend not to get completely better until the baby is born, but treatment from an experienced physiotherapist can significantly improve the symptoms, and your comfort, during pregnancy.
You may experience pelvic pain because of:
- Increased pressure on your back and pelvis due to the growth of your baby
- Changes to your posture
- Hormonal changes which soften the ligaments that support the pelvis.
What you might feel:
- Pain in the front or the back of the pelvis, lower back, buttocks, groin and sometimes into the thighs.
- Clicking, locking or grinding at the front or back of the pelvic joints.
Simple everyday daily life activities may increase your pelvic pain including:
- Prolonged or fast walking.
- Getting in and out of the car or bed.
- Rolling in bed.
- Going up and down stairs.
- Standing on one leg (e.g. dressing – putting on trousers).
Here are some simple tips to help reduce your pelvic pain and improve your level of comfort:
- Take smaller steps when walking.
- Get dressed sitting down
- Take stairs one at a time
- Reduce heavy lifting and pushing and pulling activities (e.g. vacuuming).
- Pace yourself: Break up large tasks into smaller activities.
- Keep your knees together when rolling in bed.
- Avoid crossing your legs
- Sleep on your side with a pillow in between your legs.
- Wear a compression garment or support belt (these can be supplied by your physiotherapist).
- Perform strengthening exercises for the hip, pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles (as shown by your physiotherapist).
When is it time to get help for pelvic pain in pregnancy?
Getting diagnosed as early as possible can help keep pain to a minimum and avoid long-term discomfort. Treatment by a physiotherapist aims to relieve pain, improve the strength of surrounding muscles, and improve the stability of your pelvic joints to assist in providing you with a higher level of comfort.
Physiotherapy treatments may include:
- Massage or manual therapy to make sure the joints of your pelvis, hip and spine move normally
- Exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor, stomach, back and hip muscles
- Clinical Pilates
- Exercises in water
- Expert advice including positions for labour and birth and advice for reducing pain whilst caring for your baby
- Equipment if necessary, such as crutches or pelvic support belts
Remember that physiotherapy can enable you to have an active, healthy pregnancy and reduce the chance of the pain continuing after pregnancy.
About the Author: Amy Bach is Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at the Physioworks Health Group Camberwell. Amy is a qualified Clinical Pilates instructor and has an interest in Women’s Health and preventative strategies for recurrence following acute musculoskeletal injury. For an appointment with Amy please call reception on 9889 6611