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What is pelvic girdle pain

What is Pelvic Girdle Pain?

If you’re currently pregnant, experiencing pain and struggling to get around, you may be wondering – what is pelvic girdle pain?  

The severity of the condition can vary between women, but in some cases, it may cause extreme pain or discomfort.   

If you’re uncomfortable or having trouble getting around because of the symptoms you’re experiencing, one of the expert physiotherapists at North West Physio can help with a treatment and pain management plan. Book an appointment today by visiting us online

Pelvic Girdle Pain and Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction Explained  

The pelvic girdle consists of the two iliac bones that join the lower back to the hips, forming a bowl structure. It’s also comprised of three joints – two at the back joining the spine and one at the front called the pubic symphysis.  

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is used to explain pain arising from not only the skeletal joints and muscles but also the organs that sit in this girdle – the bladder, bowel, and reproductive organs.   

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction  

Symphysis pubis dysfunction, often referred to as pelvic girdle pain, specifically refers to pain arising from the front pelvic joint – the pubic symphysis – where the two iliac bones meet.   

This is usually a very stable junction, consisting of fibrous tissue and cartilaginous tissue, which is why it is known as a symphysis rather than a ‘joint’.  

Any changes in the amount of usual ‘give’ in this junction can cause pain.  

  • This can be an increase (laxity/hypermobility) e.g. pregnancy, post-partum, dancer, gymnast  
  • Or decrease (stiffness) e.g. arthritic conditions or post spinal surgery  

Severity of Pelvic Girdle Pain   

Severity can vary from an aggravating catch pain when going up stairs to extreme pain on any weight bearing activity – especially when standing on one leg.   

It can also be incredibly painful for pregnant women to move their legs apart during day-to-day activities such as getting out of bed or exiting a car.   

As the natural progression of PGP during pregnancy is likely to worsen, it is important to seek treatment early to help minimise the progression of symptoms.   

Most women experience a resolution of their pelvic girdle pain in the first three months postpartum.   

Treatment of Pelvic Girdle Pain   

Treatment aims to normalise the movement at the symphysis. That is done by stabilising with:  

  • Support garments  
  • Dynamic muscle control   
  • Modifying movement and activity patterns  

Or it can be done by mobilising if the patient is stiff with:  

  • Muscle stretches  
  • Physiotherapy joint mobilisation techniques  

Do Women Experience Pelvic Girdle Pain in Every Pregnancy?   

Pregnant women who have experienced PGP in one pregnancy may or may not experience it again in subsequent pregnancies.   

It is dependent on when the condition appeared during the first pregnancy, the resulting post-partum ‘separation’ of the symphysis, BMI, position of baby, and women’s type and level of activity during pregnancy.   

One study found a recurrence rate of 68% in subsequent pregnancies and time between pregnancies did not alter the recurrence rate. 70% of these women said that their pelvic girdle pain was worse in subsequent pregnancies.   

It may be beneficial to seek treatment between pregnancies to optimise pelvic girdle function.  

What is Pelvic Girdle Pain?  

If you’re having trouble getting around or you’re uncomfortable because you’re experiencing pelvic girdle pain, contact the team at North West Physio today.