Pelvic pain in Pregnancy

10 November 2014

Pelvic pain in Pregnancy More than 85% of all women will suffer from low back pain during pregnancy. Pregnancy is hard work for the body; posture and body shape change during pregnancy to adapt to the growing size and weight of the uterus. The pelvic bones undergo natural separation in order for childbirth to be possible - it stands to reason that problems may arise in the discs, muscles and ligaments of the lower back. During pregnancy a hormone called relaxin is secreted. This softens the ligaments to make the separation of the pelvic bones possible, but at the same time it can in some cases weaken the other ligaments of the spine and pelvis. Added to this the fact that the average woman gains about 2 stone during pregnancy, the extra weight bearing requirement may well put an impossible strain on the spine with the result of increasingly severe back pain.
The most common complaints during pregnancy are lower back pain, sciatica, pelvic pain, shortness of breath, neck, shoulder and upper back pain, insomnia, swelling, high blood pressure and fatigue.
Pelvic pain developed during pregnancy is sometimes referred to as 'PPGP' (pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain) or 'SPD' (symphysis pubis dysfunction). PPGP is a collection of uncomfortable symptoms caused by a misalignment or stiffness of the pelvic joints at either the front or back of the pelvis. Pain can also radiate to the thighs, and some women feel or hear a clicking or grinding in the pelvic area. Whilst PPGP is not harmful to the baby, it can cause severe pain around the pelvic area and make it difficult to get around. Pain can be most noticeable whilst walking, standing on one leg (for example when you're getting dressed or going upstairs) and turning over in bed. It can also be difficult to move the legs apart, for example when getting out of a car. It's estimated that PPGP affects up to one in five pregnant women to some degree. It is not known exactly why pelvic pain affects some women, but it's thought to be linked to a number of issues, including previous damage to the pelvis, pelvic joints moving unevenly, and the weight or position of the baby.
Getting diagnosed as early as possible can help keep pain to a minimum and avoid long-term discomfort. Some common treatments for musculoskeletal aches and pains such as drugs, electrotherapy and certain exercises, are not suitable for pregnant women. Treatment from an experienced practitioner can significantly improve symptoms during pregnancy. Osteopathy offers a safe and effective way of dealing with these common problems. Osteopathic treatment aims to relieve or ease pain, improve muscle function and improve pelvic joint position and stability. This involves manual therapy to make sure that the joints of the pelvis, hip and spine move normally. Safe and effective Osteopathic techniques can help to normalise the structure by helping the body to adapt and align as the pregnancy progresses. Osteopathic treatment helps maximise the body's ability to change and support the patient and baby with minimum pain and discomfort.
When seeing an Osteopath, every patient undergoes a unique examination process. This begins with an extensive case history and an obstetric case history to see if Osteopathic treatment would be suitable. Then following a physical examination, Osteopathic manual therapy may be offered to address the tissues causing symptoms. Once the pain has subsided, maintenance treatment may be suggested to address the areas of the body and spine that will change during the progression of the pregnancy. If attention is paid to facilitate this normal physiological change, then the change can take place with the minimum of stress and discomfort leading to a more natural and easy pregnancy, and subsequent childbirth process.
General advice to prevent or manage back or pelvic pain during pregnancy: take particular care when lifting and carrying, especially when lifting or carrying other children. Do not carry a small child on one hip for any length of time. If you stand for any length of time, keep your bottom 'tucked' in to reduce strain on the lower part of your spine and maintain equal weight on both legs. Sit down when dressing to avoid standing on one leg. When sitting, adopt a good sitting posture that supports your back, thighs and feet, use a cushion for support and don't sit with your legs crossed. When lying on your side, place a pillow under the 'bump' and a pillow between your knees to provide support. When lying on your back, place a pillow beneath your knees to keep them bent. Keep your knees together when getting in and out of the car, turning in bed and getting in and out of bed.
Please feel free to contact me - Laura Godfrey - on 02082038977 if you have any questions relating to pregnancy pain and the benefits of osteopathic treatment. I am a general osteopath, so can help with all things musculoskeletal, but do have a strong interest in, and extensive experience with treating pregnant women. You can also get further details from our website

Tags: Pregnancy, Osteopathy, Back Pain, Pelvic Pain, Symphysis pubis dysfunction

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