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It is estimated that all women experience some degree of musculoskeletal discomfort during pregnancy, and 25% have at least temporarily self limiting symptoms.
Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is a particularly common condition associated with pregnancy. It is the term used to describe pregnancy-related pain in the lumbosacral, sacroiliac and symphysis pubis joints.
The prevalence is 16-25% with 5-8% reporting clinically significant PGP post-partum for up to 2 years.
Pain is atypical and presents around the lower thoracic, lumbar, pelvis, hips and groins.
Activities that prove difficult are getting out of bed, the car, getting dressed, turning in bed, rising from sitting, walking & carrying small loads.
Care needs to be taken to prevent the symptoms making labor difficult due to a restricted range of motion.
Physiotherapists with specialised knowledge use a range of pain provocation and functional tests to assist the diagnosis.
While PGP is often mild it can sometimes be quite disabling and does respond well to physiotherapy and patient specific exercise.
The aims of treatment for PGP are to relieve pain, improve function and to prevent recurrence and ongoing pain.
Pain control is the most important aspect of management.
Pelvic belts may give symptomatic relief but they should not be used as a single treatment for PGP and should be applied for short periods.
Manual therapy is effective if used in conjunction with a multifactoral individualised physiotherapy program.
- By Claire Mc Guinness, Physiotherapist