Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy


Pain in the pelvic area during pregnancy occurs in about 7 to 8 percent of pregnant women. If not treated properly, it may result in lifelong problems during subsequent pregnancies. No effective treatment of this type of pain has been found; however, the only way to prevent pelvic pain during further pregnancies is to seek guidance from an expert physiotherapist or from midwives.

Only exercise can help to support the abdominal muscles, while supportive belts can also be helpful. Realignment of the pelvis through manipulation and light massage can assist with the treatment of pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy. Either a physiotherapist, a chiropractor, can do this manipulation or even an osteopath, as long the specialist has a vivid idea of PGP as detailed in this article.



Pelvic Girdle Pain During Pregnancy

Pelvic pain in pregnancy affects up to one in five women. Pelvic pain is also known as Pelvic Girdle Pain

Studies by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists show PGP occurs in 20 per cent of pregnant women, and for an estimated 7 to 8 per cent, it results in severe disability.


Yet support groups complain there is a dearth of information and expertise in this area among the medical profession.


As a result, women don’t always get the treatment they need, increasing the risk of the problem returning for subsequent pregnancies and putting them at risk of long-term problems.


‘Pelvic pain in pregnancy is very common, and for most women it does settle completely once the baby is born,’ says Dr Robin Chakraverty, a specialist in chronic back and spinal problems at the West Midlands Spinal Medical Clinic.


‘But for a small percentage — which actually represents a very large number of women — it can lead to chronic back and pelvic pain.’


‘In the rare case of ongoing back and pelvis problems, the woman is quite likely to avoid getting pregnant again,’ adds obstetrician Patrick O’Brien.


‘However, I have — very rarely — seen women ask for a termination because the pelvic pain is so bad.’


Dr Chakraverty says that while midwives and physiotherapists are aware of PGP, the problem is ‘there is currently no consensus of opinion about how best to treat it’.


‘All the evidence suggests if you can see a physiotherapist with experience of dealing with the condition as soon as symptoms appear, it can make a huge difference in terms of both easing the pain, and preventing it recurring in future pregnancies.’


It seems in many cases — including Carolyn’s — the wrong kind of physiotherapy could be a waste of time and money.


As Dr John Tanner, president of the British Institute of Musculoskeletal Medicine, explains: ‘Correct treatment requires a certain amount of expertise, which not all NHS physiotherapists have.’


The conventional approach is exercise to strengthen the abdominal  — or ‘core’ — muscles, and to wear supportive belts.


However, this can make little difference, says physiotherapist Clare Woodward, who specialises in treating the condition.


‘Once you are in pain, the core muscles, which work like a corset to hold the pelvis in place, will be switched off, making your pelvis even more unstable, and increasing the chance of pain.’


She’s found ‘manual realignment’  — an expert technique of gentle massage, rocking and manipulation — can put the pelvis back in the correct position and get the joints working properly once more.


Dr Chakraverty agrees the most important first step is realigning the pelvis: ‘It doesn’t matter whether your treatment comes from a physiotherapist, a chiropractor or an osteopath —– as long as they have an interest and understanding of PGP,’ he says.


Clare Woodward is convinced realignment can be enough to stop the problem in its tracks.


‘You should get treatment while you are pregnant, as this is much more effective in the long-term than waiting until after the baby is born,’ she says.


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Pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy is common during pregnancy. However, to get the best from any form of treatment is to consult a physiotherapist as soon as the symptoms start to appear. While you may not be thinking ahead, manual realignment of the pelvis has been found to be effective for chronic back pain during subsequent pregnancies. It is advisable to consult a specialist in PGP during pregnancy instead of waiting until the baby is born because it might be too late and lead to long-term complications.



Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) and Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) can be easily treated. Watch this video by Arianna from Es-Sense Of Birth Doulas Massage Therapists about relief of pelvic pain during and after pregnancy.





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