Pelvic girdle pain

April 8, 2020 | By More

What can I do to manage pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain?

by Sylvia Farrell

Chartered Physiotherapist specialising in pelvic health

This is a subject I have been asked a lot about recently and in a time when there is less access to women’s health physios I thought I’d do a little blog with some information, self-management strategies and useful tips for anyone who may be struggling. 

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) refers to any pain around the pelvis or lower back during or after pregnancy. It affects about 1 in 5 pregnant ladies and symptoms can range from mild to severe. There’s no one size fits all for management but these tips are generally helpful to most women I treat so are definitely worth trialing if you are experiencing any pregnancy related PG pain. 

1. Think about your posture and stay symmetrical when possible.

Try not to cross your legs. 

At night in bed place a pillow between your legs(make sure it’s between knees and heels). Pregnancy pillows can be helpful. You can also support the bump with a cushion or towel. 

Avoid standing on one leg. Sit down to dress/undress or put on/off shoes. 

If you have a toddler try not to carry them on one hip all the time, best avoid lifting them where possible and encourage independence!! Easier said than done I know. 

Handbags can weigh us down on one side, especially when we are carrying round the kitchen sink! Firstly, empty the bag and only carry essentials. Use a cross body or rucksack type bag when possible. 

Log roll to get in/out of bed or turning over in bed. By this I mean keep the knees and heels together and when you roll/turn move your shoulders and knees in one movement and at the same time, just like a log. Wearing silky nightwear can also make it easier to move around the bed. 

2. Walking

If in pain during or after walking maybe slow down a little and take shorter steps. 

Avoid waddling, this can sometimes feel easier however it is not helpful and can ultimately aggravate symptoms.

3. Pain relief

Ice        If you have pain at the front and centre of the pelvis at the pubic bone ice can be very soothing. You can use an ice pack or bag of peas wrapped in a damp cloth. Apply for 10-15mins intervals only……if the ice doesn’t work then try heat but in this area I’ll always trial ice to begin with. 

Heat     If you have sacroiliac, buttock or back pain heat works well. Use a heat pad or hot water bottle applied over area of pain. Hot baths/showers are also effective. 

Spikey Massage ball      These can be really helpful if your buttocks are sore or tight. Place the ball on your gluts and lean against the wall to place pressure on the ball and release the muscle underneath. A tennis ball can also be used. 

4. Avoid repetitive heavy lifting or twisting. Again, encourage independence if you have toddlers.

5. Stairs

Take the stairs one step at a time. If your pain is on one side only then try leading with the ‘good’ leg going upstairs and leading with the ‘bad’ side coming down. If this is still uncomfortable try going up and down sideways.

6. Getting in and out of the car

Rather than trying to swing both legs in together sit yourself into the car and then take little steps with your feet into the car, the reverse when getting out. If you continue to struggle try placing a plastic bag under your bottom to allow you swivel easily as you step in (remember to remove this bag once you are in position as we don’t want you sliding out of your seat when driving!)

7. Exercise

Staying active during pregnancy is important and movement can be very helpful if you have PGP. You should always move within your comfortable levels and if a position or exercise is aggravating your symptoms you need to change it up or stop what you are doing. Do not push through pain.                     As a rule stick to symmetrical type exercises eg. Pelvic tilting in sitting/standing/all 4’s/on the gym ball (this is twerking so channel Elvis/Miley Cyrus!), squats, pilates based exercise and yoga/stretching. Also don’t forget the pelvic floor exercises.

One thing to remember is that your symptoms are temporary and for most people PGP will completely resolve on the birth of baby. For some there may be niggles postnatally, but these should resolve with time and the correct rehab. 

Stay safe and stay moving if possible though your pregnancy. You can contact Sylvia Farrell for any pregnancy or women’s pelvic health issues by calling Evidence-Based Therapy Centre on 091 727777 or get in touch via the contact page.

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