Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) refers to the condition wherein you feel pain in areas around your lumbar spine, abdomen, and thighs.
This condition commonly affects pregnant women and may be felt during or after pregnancy.
For pregnant women, their pelvic pain can also be linked with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, also referred to as pubic pain.
Pregnant women who suffer from pelvic girdle pain may experience mild to severe pain in the pelvic area.
Pelvic pain may also be a result of other health conditions such as kidney stones, UTI, etc.
There are multiple factors that cause this condition.
In this article, we will discuss the different causes of pelvic girdle pain.
What Are Its Causes?
The following are the different pregnancy-related factors that may result in pelvic pain:
Urinary Tract Infection
Approximately 10% of pregnant women contracts urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their pregnancies.
This can cause several symptoms like painful or bloody urination (or both) and ultimately result in pelvic and abdominal pain.
Other cases of pelvic pain resulted from more serious conditions such as uterine rupture, uterine fibroid, appendicitis, miscarriage, preterm labor, ectopic pregnancy, etc.
Even constipation can develop into pelvic pain.
Pregnant women who experience constipation are most susceptible to developing the condition into pelvic and abdominal pain.
The symptoms may not be as harsh as other forms of pelvic pain but it can cause great discomfort and distress.
Relaxed Pelvic Joints
During pregnancy, particularly in the later stage, a woman’s body releases a hormone called “relaxin” much higher compared to the earlier stage of pregnancy.
This hormone release helps the muscles and tissues to stretch out so as to prepare the body to give birth.
As a result, the joints in the pelvic area loosen and separate the pelvic bones to an extent.
This leads to mild to severe pain around the pubic area and may render your legs unstable for a period of time.
Braxton-Hicks contractions, which are also referred to as “practice contractions,” are sporadic contractions in the uterus that can cause chronic pressure in the pelvic area.
It usually starts around 20 weeks into pregnancy.
Some women describe this pressure as a “tight feeling in the abdomen” that comes and goes without warning.
Braxton-Hicks Contractions are generally painful, but it can produce mild to moderate pain.
This condition may show similar symptoms to that of a menstrual cramp and can cause discomfort.
As the baby inside the womb grows bigger over time, more pressure is being added to a woman’s body.
This puts more pressure on the nerves that run from the pubic area up to the legs and can cause pain in the lower pelvis.
Pelvic pain caused by additional pressure is commonly felt during simple movements including walking, riding cars, rolling on your bed, etc.
This usually starts from the 13th week of pregnancy.
Ligament pains are the result of ligament stretching from the upper uterus to the pubic area.
This is a very common cause of pelvic pain and can be felt the most during activities like standing up or walking.
Ovarian cysts are sacs that form in the ovary which are often caused by sudden changes in egg cell production.
Ovarian cysts are very common occurrence and are usually harmless and not cancerous.
However, these cysts are capable of growing larger over time, especially during pregnancy wherein the ovaries receive more and more pressure as the uterus grows bigger.
This can cause continuous, severe pain.
If you suspect that your pelvic pain is caused by ovarian cysts, it is best to talk to a medical professional and seek medical advice.
Similar to additional pressure, a growing uterus is caused by the baby growing bigger inside the womb.
It also resembles the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and usually starts around the 8th week of pregnancy.
You may feel cramping and mild to moderate pain in the pelvic area.
What Are Its Symptoms?
The following are the most common symptoms of pelvic pain:
- Sharp pain around the pelvic area, especially felt during physical activities like walking or climbing the stairs
- Pain in the pubic region, particularly over the front and central bones
- Pain in the sides
- Pain in the lower back
- Pain in the lower abdomen up to the upper legs
- Vaginal Pain
- A throbbing pain around the pelvis and thighs, usually characterized by clicking sounds
- Unstable and aching legs
How Can I Manage the Symptoms?
The following practices can help you avoid or reduce the severity of pelvic pain:
- Wear garments that can help support the pelvis like belly bands and pelvic belts in order to reduce the additional pressure from the growing uterus.
- Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes. As much as possible, only wear flats or shoes that are low-heeled.
- Avoid carrying heavy objects.
- Avoid stepping over random objects on the floor.
- Avoid climbing up and down the stairs.
- Avoid squatting, especially deep squatting.
- Avoid quick and sharp movements like doing twists and turns.
- Always sit down for a while before performing any sort of activity that may trigger pelvic pain.
- Apply a cold pack around the pubic area to reduce inflammation and aching.
- Apply heat pads in areas that feel tight.
- When getting inside a car, always sit on the car seat first before bringing your legs inside.
- When getting out of a car, bring both of your legs out first to help support your body weight.
- Take warm showers. This helps relax muscles and prevent pain from worsening. But don’t shower with water that’s too hot as it may be dangerous for the baby.
- When getting in bed, sit on the edge first and keep your legs together, then slowly lower your body sideways until you are lying down on your side, then slowly lift your legs until they’re in line with your body.
- Place a pillow in between your knees when sleeping to avoid pain from pressure when rolling in bed.
- Be sure to always sleep adequately.
Can It Be Treated?
The following are the most potent treatment options available for pelvic pain:
- Regular exercise. This can be in the form of water exercises, postural exercises, tissue strengthening exercises, mobilization exercises, etc.
- Prenatal massage therapy