Pelvic girdle refers to the physical components which form the pelvis and these include the hip bones, the lower end of the spine or the sacrum, muscles, ligaments, cartilages and other soft tissues. It plays an important part during pregnancy and especially during delivery of the baby, as the baby starts to descend by entering into the pelvic cavity. Therefore the pelvic girdle is also considered as the starting point of the birth canal.
How does Pelvic girdle facilitate birth?
Being a stiff structure, the pelvic girdle provides stability for human movements and it can bear and distribute weight when a person stands straight, walk, lift weight…etc. However, in order to facilitate the passage of the baby, the pelvic girdle needs to lose some of its stiffness and be lot more flexible. The secretion of Relaxin, a hormone which facilitates softening of tissues in the body; can soften the muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues which bind the pelvic girdle together to a certain extent although at times the relaxation could be little bit excessive for some mothers.
What causes Pelvic girdle pain (PGP)?
As the pelvic girdle relax, it may not be able to provide the usual structural support and the stability that is required for standing straight, moving, bending…etc and the resulting abnormal forces can put the joints of the pelvic girdle, specially the one joining the hip bones with the sacrum, in lot more stress. Such stress can give rise to swelling and pain in the region which we refer to as the PGP. If the condition does not receive enough attention, the injuries may ensue and it might take a longer time to heal or may last forever.
What can aggravate PGP during pregnancy?
According to experts, sleeping on the back with legs straight, lifting heavy weights, excessive day time activities, and poor postures can aggravate PGP in pregnancy. At the same time, it may also aggravate towards the end of the pregnancy than how it manifests in the first trimester. Furthermore, mothers who have experienced similar pains in an earlier pregnancy could suffer the same in a subsequent pregnancy as well.
What are the symptoms associated with pelvic girdle pain?
The pain related to PGP is usually one sides and it is often felt in the buttocks. At the same time, it can be associated with a back pain and sometimes the pain could radiate towards the thighs or even to the front of the pelvis. The pain will aggravate with movements, getting up from seated or lying position, when bending to lift weight…etc. Furthermore, these mothers will complain that they can’t lift the legs when lying on the bed while turning on the bed will also become difficult. Apart from pain, they may also complain of weakness in one or both legs to a certain extent.
What are the treatment methods for PGP in pregnancy?
As it is during pregnancy, use of medication does not play a major role in the management of PGP. At the same time, it may not give much long-term relief to affected mothers. The condition usually resolves after giving birth although some may suffer minor PGP even after the pregnancy.
One of the best advices for mothers suffering from PGP is to see a qualified physiotherapist in order to gain knowledge regarding safe postural adjustments, movements, methods of lifting weight, exercises as well as on other routines. Furthermore, they will be able to provide treatment in terms of massages to relieve stiffness in certain muscles groups and ligaments during times of pain.
Mothers with PGP need to be careful in their movements and prolonged activities are not advisable at all. Thus, small frequent movements should be the way forward and will reduce the stress of the ‘pelvic girdle joints’ involved in such movements.
Tummy and pelvic floor exercises can also help to stabilize the pelvic girdle while wearing a pelvic belt can give relief to many suffering pregnant mothers.
For some women, acupuncture treatment can bring relief to a certain extent although such treatments need to be supported by above mentioned modalities as well.