Pregnancy-related Pelvic Girdle Pain or Lower Back Pain

Pregnancy-related Pelvic Girdle Pain or Lower Back Pain

At least 1 in 5 mums-to-be will experience pelvic girdle pain (PGP) or back pain during their pregnancy. Pain and discomfort may be felt over the lower back, bottom, groin, inner thighs and hips. It may be right on the pubic joint at the front or go into the legs and feel like sciatica.

This can happen due to changes in your posture, weight and centre of gravity during pregnancy. Having a previous history of lower back pain, pelvic pain or pregnancy-related pain does increase your risk, unfortunately, as does being overweight or being in a physically demanding job.

Pain may be aggravated by a lot of walking, create difficulty standing on one leg, climbing stairs, turning in bed, getting in and out of the bed, car or out of a deep sofa. You may find it uncomfortable to lie on your back, stand for long periods or get dressed.

What can help?

The key is everything in moderation! Day-to-day avoid spending too long in any one position and take rest breaks when you can. Take the stairs slowly and one step at a time, or when out and about try to take the lift where possible. Delegate any heavy jobs and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Exercise

You can help yourself to prevent or manage this pain by keeping active and strong through exercise that is pain free. Pregnancy pilates is a great idea to improve pelvic floor and core strength; gentle walking, if it is painfree, may help; or doing activities in the water such as aquanatal classes, light swimming (avoiding the breaststroke) or simply walking in the pool. Don’t forget your pelvic floor muscle exercises, doing these regularly as instructed by your physiotherapist can help with pelvic support!

Strategies for comfort

Wear supportive shoes, not too flat and not high heels. Sit down to put on underwear, tights, trousers, socks, shoes etc so as to avoid being on one foot. Keep your knees together when turning over in bed, getting in and out of bed, the car etc. and consider a pillow between your knees when lying on your side in bed. Try to avoid heavy bags on one shoulder, carrying toddlers repeatedly on one hip, lifting heavy weights/shopping/wet laundry etc., prolonged sitting or standing, sitting cross-legged or rushing around at a fast pace. Let everything take you a little longer now when walking!

  • Gentle heat – A hot water bottle or warm microwaved wheat pack applied over the buttocks/ low back area can reduce pain and help the muscles to relax.
  • Ice – Try using a small pack of frozen peas/ice cubes wrapped up in a damp cloth applied to the painful joint for 10 minutes 3-4x a day. This is most effective if the pain is in the pubic joint at the front of your pelvis.

If your pain is persisting despite these strategies seek treatment from a specialist women’s health physiotherapist. Interventions such as specific advice, hands-on treatment, exercises, acupuncture and use of a pelvic support belt may be useful in alleviating your symptoms.