What is it? (what, incidence, causes)

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is pain or discomfort in any of the joints of the pelvis and is extremely common during pregnancy. Women are most likely to develop PGP anywhere from 14-30 weeks of pregnancy and 33-50% of women will report having it by 20 weeks.

It is usually present in the posterior part of the pelvis and can reduce your capacity with long periods of standing, walking and sitting. You may also experience trouble rolling in bed or bending over.

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What causes PGP?

The exact cause of pelvic girdle pain is yet to be identified but they are many factors that are thought to contribute to it during pregnancy. Firstly, there are lots of hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy to increase the laxity of the pelvic ligaments to prepare for birth which changes the demand on our muscles and joint surfaces. These changes also have the potential to change our sensitivity and perception of pain. Alongside this there are postural changes occurring as your baby grows and this simply means you are heavier and you have more load to carry then you have been used too. It is a time of many changes for your body!

How long will it last?

The duration of pelvic girdle pain is very individual. However due to the nature of pelvic girdle pain and the fact that it is related to your pregnancy it can last for duration of your pregnancy. That is why it is important to seek help early to start managing the symptoms and keeping you moving!

On a more positive note though most women who experience PGP during pregnancy will have their symptoms resolve after giving birth with only 3% of women reporting symptoms at 3 months post-natal.

What can I do?

The best thing to do if you begin to experience pelvic girdle pain is to seek advice from a women’s health physiotherapist. The earlier you can do this the more likely it is that will be able to manage the condition well throughout your pregnancy.

If you are experiencing this some general advice would be:

  • to avoid prolonged sitting or standing
  • avoid asymmetrical activities (stairs, standing with weight to one side, lunges)
  • roll in bed with your knees together
  • try to shorten your stride with walking

Your women’s health physiotherapist can help to individualise the above advice whilst also providing treatment. Treatment may involve soft tissue massage around the hips and low back, being fitted with a pelvic belt and when you are ready specific strengthening exercises.

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