Pregnancy and labour are miraculous events in a woman’s life. For some women, these wonderful experiences are clouded by the presence of low back and pelvic joint pain, also known as pelvic girdle pain (PGP). Women with PGP often experience sharp pain in the low back or in the groin with simple, daily activities such as turning in bed, getting up from a chair, standing on one leg to put on trousers, walking and climbing stairs.
The pelvis is made up of three bones which join together and form a ring. Three joints are part of this pelvic ring: the symphysis pubis joint at the front (marked green in the diagram below) and two sacroiliac joints at the back (the areas marked red in the diagram below).
In pregnancy, the hormones relaxin and progesterone help the body to prepare for birth by causing ligaments to soften and relax. Joints become more flexible, including the joints of the pelvis. As the baby grows with advancing pregnancy, increased demand is put on the body’s muscles, ligaments and joints. Everything must work harder to maintain good posture. Sometimes this increased stress leads to injury and pain. Women with PGP may also have asymmetry in their pelvic joints whereby one joint is more stiff or more mobile than the others.
Below is an informative guide with general advice on how to manage pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy from the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Women’s Health in the United Kingdom. In addition, if you are experiencing persistent sharp pains in the low back or in the groin in your pregnancy or in your post-partum recovery, you should consider consulting a physiotherapist for an assessment. The therapist will help restore balance in your pelvic joints, teach you safe exercises which will provide better support to your joints, and educate you on delivery positions which are less stressful for your joints. Janet Leung is the therapist at our clinic who has a women’s health focus. Book your appointment with Janet by contacting the clinic today.