During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes many changes. As the baby grows, the mother experiences an increase in weight and changes to her posture, which can lead to extra pressure on the joints, particularly the spine and the pelvis. During pregnancy, the ovaries also produce a hormone called relaxin that leads to the softening of ligaments. Whilst relaxin allows the pelvic bones to shift during delivery, it affects the ligaments in the whole body, making it more vulnerable to strain as the baby grows and the body changes.
What is Pelvic Girdle Pain?
1 in 5 pregnant women are affected by Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP), caused by hormonal related pelvic joint problems. PGP can happen at any time during pregnancy, but it can also occur during delivery if the mother is in an awkward, uncomfortable position for labour, or experiences a difficult birth. In some cases, new mothers may also experience PGP after giving birth, in some cases, weeks or months later.
The pelvis is formed from three bones that are joined by the sacroiliac joints at the back and the symphysis pubis joint at the front. Whilst these joints do move a small amount to allow you to move naturally, during pregnancy, Pelvic Girdle Pain can cause pains in any of the pelvic joints, making normal activity difficult.
In many cases of PGP, one pelvic joint stiffens and stops moving normally, leading to pain and irritation in the surrounding joints and muscles as they have to compensate for the stiff joint.
Whilst the softening of ligaments during pregnancy can contribute to PGP, the primary cause is more likely to be:
- An underlying joint stiffness, that is aggravated by hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy.
- An accident during pregnancy, for example, a slip or fall.
- Postural problems.
- Underlying joint hypermobility, where the joints are already less stable.
The good news is that although PGP is fairly common, it is also treatable. Manual therapy such as osteopathy can be effective for relieving pain caused by mechanical joint problems during pregnancy. Osteopaths train extensively in treating joint problems. To relieve PGP, osteopathic practitioners use gentle manual therapy to help release stiff pelvic joints, helping return them to their normal motion and functionality.
Osteopathic medicine focuses on the whole patient, not just the area where the symptoms are felt. In many cases, treating the most painful point is unlikely to be effective as it is likely that the underlying problem is elsewhere. Osteopaths will focus on the whole body to diagnose the source of pelvic pain.
In addition to providing manual treatment, osteopaths can also give advice on exercises tailored to the individual, so that you can work on returning to normal mobility in between osteopathic treatment sessions.
Osteopathy for Pregnant Women and New Mothers
If you are experiencing aches, pains and strains such as PGP, our team of osteopaths may be able to help you. To arrange a consultation, please contact Solihull Osteopathic Practice by calling 0121 705 4499.