Experiencing Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)?


What is Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)?

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is a common condition which causes pain and physical impairmentaround the pelvis and lower back during pregnancy. Guidelines report that the prevalenceof pelvic girdle pain is estimated to occur in up to 70% of the antepartum population. PGPmay be severe in 20% of women, and can persist post partum, therefore it is important toseek treatment sooner rather than later.

When are you likely to experience PGP?

PGP can present at any stage of pregnancy and gradually increases as the pregnancy progresses. It involves pain in the posterior part of the pelvis, below the lower back, and canreduce a women’s capacity for standing, walking and sitting.

What is the cause of PGP?

Hormonal changes that occur within the body are thought to be the cause of PGP. Thesehormones can cause increased laxity within the joints of the pelvis and therefore put anincreased demand on the structures of the pelvis. The stabilizing muscles can becomeoverworked and in turn cause irritation and inflammation around the area. Other risk factors for the development of PGP include previous pregnancy, orthopedic dysfunction,increase body mass index (BMI), smoking, work dissatisfaction and lack of belief ofimprovement.

Importance of consulting a Physiotherapist to relieve PGP

Development of PGP in the first trimester are indicative of higher intensity symptoms in thelast trimester. Physiotherapists play an important role in the diagnosis and management ofPGP.
During your initial consultation, your women’s health physiotherapist will ask questions about your pain history, and examine a few simple tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment usually include a program of gentle stretching and strengthening exercisesand/or manual therapy techniques. You will be provided with advice regarding yourcondition and how to manage it. In some cases pelvic belts may be required.

Below are some tips on how to manage your pelvic girdle pain
  • Avoid prolonged sitting or prolonged standing
  • Avoid performing asymmetrical activities such as standing with weightpredominantly through one side
  • Sleep in a supported side-lying position, and roll in bed with your knees together.
  • Take short stride lengths when walking and avoid soft surfaces eg sand.

PGP generally has a good postpartum prognosis, with most instances of PGP resolvingwithin three months, however some cases can persist post-delivery.

Pelvic Girdle Pain is a condition that CAN be treated successfully, with good return tofunction and activity if treated promptly.

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Written By Mary Wrixon, Physiotherapist