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Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is defined by pain experienced between the posterior iliac crest and the gluteal fold, particularly in the vicinity of the sacroiliac joints (SIJ). Pain may refer to the posterior thigh and may also be present around the pubic symphysis (front of the pelvis). Approximately 20% of pregnant women suffer from PGP at some stage throughout pregnancy (Vleeming et al, 2008). Pelvic girdle pain can be caused by uneven movement of either side of the pelvis, decreased strength of core and pelvic floor muscles leading to increased pelvic instability, a previous fall which has affected the pelvis or muscles around the pelvis, or changes in hormones during pregnancy which affects the laxity of ligaments supporting the pelvis.
PGP normally causes pain with prolonged standing, walking and sitting. Activities involving lifting one leg at a time such as getting in/out of a car and turning in bed also tend to be quite painful. Pain can range from a mild discomfort to severe pain and disability during or after pregnancy. In severe cases some sufferers have required crutches to help ease pain with walking. Pelvic girdle pain can also occur due to trauma or reactive arthritis.
Risk factors for the development of PGP include previous lower back pain, previous PGP during pregnancy, general hypermobility, and strenuous work postures. It is important to address PGP in the early stages to prevent worsening of symptoms and increased pelvic instability. Below are a number of exercises which can help ease or prevent the symptoms of PGP:
For optimum results and prevention of ongoing pelvic girdle pain and instability, it is important to be assessed and treated by a chartered physiotherapist. Hands on manual treatment can assist in easing pain and discomfort. Your physiotherapist can also provide you with a tailored strengthening program to ensure you are doing the correct exercises and not aggravating your condition. Taping and provision of a stability belt may also be suitable in some cases until strength and stability around the pelvis is improved.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of PGP, contact us here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic, where one of our physiotherapists can asses you and provide you with an appropriate strengthening program.