Pelvic Girdle Pain

Girdle pain in pregnancy, also called pelvic girdle pain, refers to pain anywhere in the lumbar region, the hips, or the pelvic area. Pain from this condition may also radiate into the buttocks or down the front of one or both thighs. Girdle pain can occur at any point during pregnancy: for some, it will begin in the first trimester, and others will only have pain in the days or weeks before birth.

During pregnancy, the body secretes a hormone called relaxin, which causes ligaments in the hips and pelvic area to soften. This softening helps the baby pass through the pelvis during birth. However, when joints are more mobile, any existing muscular or structural imbalances can be exaggerated, causing pain as the joint is thrown out of alignment. The sacroiliac (SI) joint is a common culprit in girdle pain, as well as the hip joints themselves.

Pain at the front of the pelvis is a specific type of girdle pain, common later in pregnancy, called symphysis pubis dysfunction. In this situation, the two halves of the pelvic bone separate more than usual, causing local inflammation. Pain with this condition is often aggravated by walking, climbing stairs, or turning over in bed at night. Women may also notice a clicking or popping noise in the pelvis with movement.

While girdle pain in pregnancy can be very uncomfortable, it is treatable and will also resolve after birth in almost all cases. During pregnancy, a pelvic support belt can help stabilize joints and give immediate relief. Exercises to strengthen the stomach muscles and pelvic floor also help protect the alignment of the lower back and pelvic girdle.

Acupuncture is another effective way to minimize girdle pain. Points on the arms and legs can often safely alleviate pain in the midsection. During pregnancy, it is important to choose an acupuncturist who is experienced in safely working with pregnant women. All of the women’s health specialists at TCRA are a good resource to help manage girdle pain and pelvic pain during any stage of pregnancy.


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