pelvic painOdds are if you’re reading this post, you’re pregnant. And possibly have a pain in your bum! Pregnancy pelvic girdle pain is really common in pregnancy and won’t usually affect whether you have a caesarean or a vaginal birth.

‘But what is pregnancy pelvic girdle pain? What causes it? Will it get better? And what can I do to help it?’ I hear you ask! Every day I meet women who are in pain and so frustrated that everything they do seems to worsen their symptoms. They feel that they’re just going to get worse. Their health care provider may have told them that their pain is a ‘normal’ discomfort of pregnancy. But in lots of cases, you can decrease your pain and increase your activity levels.

 

First of all, it’s really important to get a correct diagnosis – after all if the problem isn’t pregnancy pelvic girdle pain, then treating it as such isn’t likely to help! Secondly, it’s really important to classify the type of pelvic girdle pain you have. This ‘pain in the bum’ comes in different shapes and sizes! So what else could be causing your pain?

Here are some common culprits!

UTI (urinary tract infection, kidney or bladder infection)

– quite common in pregnancy and a simple urine test will usually rule this out.

Round ligament stretching (‘stretching pains’)

– nothing to worry about as this ligament needs to stretch and thicken to support your growing womb and baby. The pain is usually above the pubic bone at the front of your pelvis, and below your bump. It often happens on the right side but can be felt on both. Generally the pain is different to pelvic girdle pain. It usually lasts for a few seconds and quickly goes. You may feel it during exercise, when coughing or sneezing, turning in bed or getting up quickly from a chair.

Pelvic Congestion

– this is similar to having varicose veins in your legs. Blood pools in the veins of your pelvis, causing pain. Usually the pain isn’t activity – related like pelvic girdle pain is. Your pain may be worse when you’re sitting. If this is your problem, you may already have noticed that you have varicose veins close to or on your vulva, buttocks or groin. A lot of bladder leakage can also be a telltale sign of pelvic congestion.

Constipation

– it may seem obvious, but if you’re having a lot of low back pain, constipation may be a factor. If this is a problem for you, addressing it my help your pain.

If you and your health care provider have ruled out other causes for your pain, then odds are you’ve got Pregnancy Pelvic Girdle Pain. Next step is to classify what type of pelvic girdle pain you have. This is really important so that you receive the best treatment plan for your particular problem.

So, pick your pain!

Symphysiolysis is a slight separation of the pubic symphysis (that joint at the front and centre of your pelvis). If you have this, you probably have pain at this point only. It may also radiate into your inner thighs and vagina.

Double-sided sacroiliac syndrome – you know those two dimples about 2 or 3 fingers out from your spine just above your bum? You probably do if you have double-sided sacroiliac syndrome, as they’re likely to be quite tender. The muscles in your bum (the ones you sit on) may also be quite tender, depending how long you’ve had pain and how much you’ve been doing. And as you’ve probably guessed, if just one of these joints is tender, you may have one-sided sacroiliac syndrome.

Lastly, Pelvic Girdle Syndrome is when you experience pain in all three pelvic joints (at the front and back of your pelvis) on a daily basis.

So, now you may have a good idea of where your pain is coming from. You will probably need to see a physiotherapist to confirm your diagnosis. He or she will help you to plan an appropriate treatment programme to alleviate or manage your symptoms.

In my next blog post, I’ll discuss the evidence for treatment and exercises for various types of pregnancy pelvic girdle pain. Let me know what worked for you!

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