As someone who suffered with PGP/SPD in both pregnancies from around 16 weeks, I understand how this condition can be debilitating and interfere with everyday living.
For those of you lucky enough not to have experienced this, lets just give a brief overview. Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is a common condition during pregnancy but isn’t exclusive to pregnancy. In fact any pain around the pelvis can be classed as such. Symphisis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) can be classified as pain at the front of the pubic bone. Symptoms of SPD can include a feeling of being split in two at the front of the vagina whereas PGP can also include pain around the Sacroiliac joint (SIJ) and/or hips/groin area. At its extreme both conditions can leave the women unable to walk, confining them to crutches or wheelchairs. However, most women will find that they are unable to perform tasks such as hoovering, pushing shopping trolleys, getting in and out of a car or deep squatting. Walking can even cause pain and discomfort, as can walking up the stairs.
Why do some women get these conditions and others not? There is some research to suggest that if there has been a trauma to the pelvis, previous injury or problem to the pelvis/ sacrum/ coccyx, birth trauma, pelvic floor dysfunction or poor bio-mechanics these can all indicate the possibility of getting the condition. But just like most things it’s not a guarantee and even if you have a healthy back with no previous problems, the hormonal changes in pregnancy may lead to the the condition. You just don’t know.
Can you prevent it? In short not always, and just because you had it in one pregnancy, it doesn’t mean you will get in future ones. Similarly you can not have it in the first/second but have it in future pregnancies. Having good pelvic stability, a functional pelvic floor and good posture may all contribute to the prevention or management of PGP/SPD.
But what if like me you want to carry on exercising, or have no choice to be active due to your job, having to walk, and other children? Well you can exercise and may find relief from a manual therapist. Here is a quick guide of exercises that may help to manage the condition.
- Listen to your body – if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
- Practise Pilates. The method helps to strengthen the deep layer of muscles forming your core. These help to stabilise the spine and pelvis.
- Work at your own range. Only work where there is no pain. So if you can squat to the floor with no symptoms great but if you only manage to bend your knees that’s where you go.
- Keep supple. Having overly tight and restrictive muscles of the legs, hips and glutes could contribute. Very gentle stretches and yoga may help.
- Use both legs. Exercises such as lunges and stair climbing may make things worse or bring about pain. Again if it hurts don’t do it!
- See a physiotherapist or specialist manual therapist. Get your pelvis checked and a simple manual technique could ease symptoms.
- Keep hydrated and avoid inflammatory foods where possible. This is the usual alcohol, sugar, caffeine etc.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Head over to www.pelvicpartnership.org.uk for advice