What is Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)?
Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is the term used to describe pain in the lower back, sacroiliac joints (the joints between the spine and the pelvis), buttocks and/or the front of the pelvis.
PGP is a common occurrence during pregnancy, affecting approximately 50-70% of pregnant women to some degree.
PGP can come on at any point in pregnancy or even post-partum and it is safe to have treatment at any stage and any severity.
While PGP is common, it should not be accepted as part of pregnancy or something you have to put up with!
What Does PGP Feel Like?
PGP commonly causes pain in the areas shown on the above diagram. Other signs and symptoms include:
- Pain on walking, often causing a ‘waddling’ gait
- Pain and/or difficulty turning over in bed or getting out of bed
- Painful or reduced ability to move your legs apart i.e. getting out of a car or the bath
- Difficulty or pain when putting weight through one leg such as when climbing stairs or getting dressed
- Pain during normal day-to-day activities
- Difficulty laying in certain positions
- Clicking or grinding in the pelvic area
Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) is a form of PGP where the majority of the pain affects the joint between the pubic bones at the front of your pelvis.
What Causes PGP?
The cause of PGP is multi-factorial and there isn’t often an obvious reason for it starting, as is the case with most lower back pain.
PGP can be related to a combination of things, including uneven movement in the joints of the pelvis and a change in the function of the muscles in the lower back, pelvis, hips or pelvic floor.
There are some risk factors that make you more likely to develop PGP, the most prominent of which is a previous history of lower back pain or pelvic pain or previous trauma to the lower back or pelvis.
Other risk factors include having had PGP in a previous pregnancy, a heavy workload (yes, this includes chasing around after a toddler!) and generalised joint hypermobility.
How is PGP Treated?
Treatment for PGP should include hands on treatment, such as that provided by chiropractors.
This should be provided by a practitioner who has additional training and expertise on the management of PGP.
Chiropractic treatment of PGP is gentle and safe at any stage of pregnancy and we often see women in the few days before they give birth.
Our chiropractors have additional training in the treatment and management of pregnant women and PGP, and we have a specially designed Belloost pregnancy pillow which is wonderfully comfortable and supportive and means you can lie on your front for treatment!
Treatment is aimed at improving the movement and symmetry in the joints of the spine and pelvis and releasing any tension in the muscles and ligaments surrounding them.
These aims are achieved using a combination of techniques including mobilisation, manipulation, massage and dry needling (a form of acupuncture) amongst other things.
Advice on pain control, ways to modify your day to day activities and home exercises are also provided by chiropractors.
Exercises and some modifications to the way you do things at home and at work are important to getting the most from your treatment.
Staying active and mobile is key – this doesn’t necessarily mean going to hike up the Malvern Hills (unless you want to and feel up to it!), but keeping things moving helps prevent you seizing up when you do try to move!
Specific exercises are aimed at restoring and maintaining appropriate balance of the pelvis and its surrounding muscles.
Other things that we often find help patients are a Snoozle Slide Sheet – this makes turning over in bed significantly easier, and putting a plastic bag on the seat of the car so that you can keep your knees together and ‘swivel’ out of the car without having to separate your legs and with minimal resistance from the fabric of the car seat.
In summary, PGP is common, but is perfectly treatable no matter the severity or stage of pregnancy.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with PGP and would like to book in for treatment or talk to one of our chiropractors, please do contact the clinic and our receptionists can arrange this for you.