The pelvic girdle refers to a ring of bones at the base of the spine. Pelvic girdle pain is felt in the front or back of the pelvis. Other symptoms include pain in the lower back, hips, groin, pubic region, pain in the thighs and knees and clicking or grinding sounds made in the pelvis area, which can be exacerbated with certain movements of the legs and hips. Pain can range from mild pain to severe pain.
Pregnancy can put a great deal of stress on the pelvic girdle, which can cause weakness and instability; as a result 20% of pregnant women experience pelvic girdle pain.
The good news: pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy is treatable throughout the pregnancy. Even better news: the treatment is safe for the growing baby. Women do not need to suffer needlessly when they experience pelvic girdle pain.
If you experience pelvic girdle pain, contact your health care provider. In the meantime, you should be aware of some typical treatments:
- Avoiding movements that seem to contribute to the pain. For instance if moving your legs apart laterally tends to produce clicking or pain, avoid that position. Adapting to this temporary condition may require consultation with a physical therapist with whom you can discuss your regular activities, including exercise. You may also need to discuss sex and sex positions with your physical therapist.
- Exercises can also be prescribed which reduce pain, increase flexibility and strength. Swimming is a great exercise, which is easy on all of your joints. In addition, the water temperature and the feeling of weightlessness can be quite therapeutic.
- Chiropractic manual therapy is often quite successful in addressing pelvic girdle pain issues.
- Acupuncture is another complementary therapy that can bring immediate as well as long term relief.
Looking ahead: most women with pelvic girdle pain are able to have a vaginal birth. In addition, 90% of pregnant women who experience pelvic girdle pain are “cured” once the baby has been delivered. One caveat: future pregnancies have a higher chance of also including pelvic girdle pain.