what is pelvic girdle pain

Pelvic girdle pain

The pain may range from a mild ache to severe pain that limits your daily activities. This may start at any time during pregnancy, labour or in the weeks after giving birth.

Women often feel that PGP affects their daily life, and that their emotional and mental health can suffer. Support is available if you need it, especially if you feel low or isolated because of your PGP.

For most women, early diagnosis and treatment should stop symptoms from getting worse, relieve your pain and help you continue with your normal everyday activities

what cause pelvic girdle pain

The three joints in the pelvis work together and normally move slightly. PGP is usually caused by the joints
moving unevenly, which can lead to the pelvic girdle becoming less stable and therefore painful. As your
baby grows in the womb, the extra weight and the change in the way you sit or stand will put more strain
on your pelvis.
You are more likely to have PGP if you have had a back problem or have injured your pelvis in the past or
have hypermobility syndrome, a condition in which your joints stretch more than normal

Symptoms of pelvic girdle pain (PGP)

Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy (POGP) highlight the following common signs and symptoms:

  • Difficulty walking (a waddling gait).
  • Pain when putting weight on one leg, such as climbing stairs.
  • Pain and/or difficulty in straddle movements, such as getting in and out of the bath.
  • Clicking or grinding in the pelvic area.
  • Limited and painful hip abduction. (Hip abduction is the movement of the leg away from the middle of the body, such as when you step to the side or get out of a car.)
  • Difficulty lying in some positions, such as on your side.
  • Pain during normal activities and/or pain/difficulty during sex.
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Symptoms can increase through pregnancy as the baby grows. This is because of changes in the body’s centre of gravity, and therefore posture. It usually occurs in pregnancy due to the hormone ‘relaxin’ softening the ligaments in your body. This allows your pelvis to open up and make room for your baby to be born.

How is PGP diagnosed?
Tell your midwife or doctor about your pain. You should be offered an appointment with a physiotherapist
who will make an assessment to diagnose PGP. This will involve looking at your posture and your back and
hip movements and ruling out other causes of pelvic pain.

What can I do to help my symptoms?

The following simple measures may help:
• keeping active but also getting plenty of rest
• standing tall with your bump and bottom tucked in a little
• changing your position frequently – try not to sit for more than 30 minutes at a time
• sitting to get dressed and undressed
• putting equal weight on each leg when you stand
• trying to keep your legs together when getting in and out of the car
• lying on the less painful side while sleeping
• keeping your knees together when turning over in bed
• using a pillow under your bump and between your legs for extra support in bed


Avoid anything that may make your symptoms worse, such as:
• lifting anything heavy, for example heavy shopping
• going up and down the stairs too often• stooping, bending or twisting to lift or carry a toddler or baby on one hip
• sitting on the floor, sitting twisted, or sitting or standing for long periods
• standing on one leg or crossing your legs.

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What treatment will I be offered for PGP?

Your physiotherapist will suggest the right treatment for you. This may include:
• advice on avoiding movements that may be aggravating the pain. You will be given advice on the
best positions for movement and rest and how to pace your activities to lessen your pain.
• exercises that should help relieve your pain and allow you to move around more easily. They
should also strengthen your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to improve your balance and
posture and make your spine more stable.
• manual therapy (hands-on treatment) to the muscles and joints by a physiotherapist, osteopath or
chiropractor who specialises in PGP in pregnancy. They will give you hands-on treatment to gently
mobilise or move the joints to get them back into position, and help them move normally again.
This should not be painful.
• warm baths, or heat or ice packs
• hydrotherapy
• acupuncture
• a support belt or crutches.

For most women, early diagnosis and treatment should stop symptoms from getting worse, relieve your
pain and help you continue with your normal everyday activities. It is therefore very important that you are
referred for treatment early.