Chronic pelvic pain is mostly seen in women and can affect up to 15% of women. Many women will experience pelvic pain in pregnancy, commonly called Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). The good news is that it does not harm your baby. The less good news is that it can become quite painful for pregnant women who experience it.
What is it?
PGP is discomfort and pain felt in the pelvis, abdomen, and lower back which can radiate to the upper thighs and perineum. It is caused by stiffness or misalignment in the pelvis, often exacerbated by the hormone relaxin, which is excreted during your pregnancy. PGP can vary from mild to severe. Unfortunately, women who have had PGP in a previous pregnancy are highly likely to have PGP in future pregnancies and potentially with worse symptoms.
What are the risk factors?
Risk factors of pelvic pain include:
- Gender (seen more in women)
- Previous history of low back pain or injury of the back or pelvis
- Being pregnant
- Having a high number of previous pregnancies
- Being obese or overweight
- Having a physically demanding job
- Experiencing high emotional distress
Treatments for pelvic pain
Several treatment options are used to treat pelvic bone pain. These treatments are aimed at relieving pain, improving muscle function, and increasing pelvic joint range of motion and stability. They include:
- Patient education
- Medications, that is analgesic, muscle relaxants, and anti-neuropathic medications.
- Nerve stimulation
- Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, abdominal, back, and hip muscles.
- Use of pelvic support garments and crutches
Lifestyle modifications help you cope and enhance the healing of pelvic bone pain. The following may help treat pelvic bone pain include:
- Wearing low-heeled, supportive shoes
- Adequate physical activity that does not make the pain worse
- Right posture and position when sitting, sleeping, having sex, etc.
- Reducing or avoiding weight-bearing activities such as standing or walking for long periods, standing on one leg, climbing stairs, carrying your baby on one hip, etc
- Avoiding activities that involve you abducting your hips, that is, opening them away from your body. Examples are squatting, getting in and out of cars with your knees apart, etc.
- Applying heat to painful areas
- Using ice packs over painful joints
- Get help with chores
PGP can be managed throughout your pregnancy and most symptoms will resolve soon after birth. The best management for PGP is through a pelvic pain specialist physio or women’s health physio with expert knowledge in this area. With modifications to daily functioning and regular practice of exercises, you will help manage PGP throughout your pregnancy.
You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 07 3188 5000.
This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.