There are a few injuries or pains common during pregnancy. Knowing that what you are experiencing is normal is often enough piece of mind. However when the pain is affecting your day-to-day life or work, that’s when seeing a physiotherapist can help.
During pregnancy your body goes through many changes. One of these is increased ligament laxity. Research used to relate this to high amounts of the hormone Relaxin in your body during pregnancy; however recent studies show Relaxin might not be the hormone responsible for ligament laxity in humans after all (only in pigs!). Despite not yet knowing what causes this ligament laxity, it does occur. Your lower back and pelvis are common areas that symptoms are felt due to this change in flexibility.
Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP):
PGP is a specific form of low back pain that affects the sacroiliac joints (SIJ); where your spine and pelvis meet, and your pubic symphysis (the joint at the front of your pelvis).
Pain is felt either at the back of your pelvis (on one side or both), at the front of your pelvis, or in all three places.
Tasks such as walking, climbing stairs and dressing can become difficult and painful. This is due to the joints that are put under load in these activities having more movement than usual.
Don’t fear! Your pelvis is not unstable. It is just less functional than normal and needs a bit of help to allow you to keep living your life. After all, the reason our ligaments become more flexible is to help prepare our body for labour, so it is a necessary part of pregnancy.
When will you experience pelvic girdle pain?
The most common time to experience pregnancy-related PGP is during weeks 14 – 30 of your pregnancy. Approximately one in five people experience significant PGP during pregnancy.
What can you do?
There are a number of factors that affect why you get PGP, so it is best to be assessed by a physiotherapist to see if exercise, hands on therapy or a supportive brace is best for you.
Some advice to help is:
- Avoid sustained postures, like sitting or standing, longer than 30 minutes at a time.
- Avoid walking for hours at a time.
- Avoid asymmetrical activities that load one side of your body at a time, such as stairs or standing with your weight shifted to one side.
Unfortunately research shows that if you do have PGP during pregnancy it is likely to get worse in later stages of pregnancy; therefore it is best to get your symptoms assessed by a physiotherapist who specialises in pre-and post-natal care early. Physiotherapy can help keep your symptoms from getting worse, so you can continue living while you wait for your little one to arrive.
About the Author:
Monique relocated from Launceston to study Physiotherapy at the University of South Australia. Following this she worked at the Launceston General Hospital, gaining experience in rehabilitation and post operative physiotherapy. Monique is interested in a range of musculoskeletal areas of physiotherapy including sports injuries, Paediatrics, Pilates and women’s health.
Outside of work Monique has a keen interest in fitness taking part in local fun runs, triathlons, rowing and surfing in her spare time.