Many women will experience some form of pain during pregnancy usually in the lower back or pelvic region. Often this is due to increased laxity of ligaments plus increased load due to weight gain and baby growth, causing irritation of various affected musculoskeletal structures. A few common examples are described below.
Pregnancy Related Pelvic Girdle Pain (PrPGP)
PrPGP is often the result of two common joints. If pain is felt around the buttock region, it is often from irritation of the sacroiliac joints, or if pain is around the front of the pelvis it is commonly occurring from irritation of the pubic symphysis. Pelvic girdle pain is usually aggravated standing on one leg or going up stairs, getting out of a car and rolling over in bed.
Round Ligament Pain
The structure known as the round ligament is actually two fibro-muscular cords that support either side of the uterus. As the uterus grows these fibres stretch and may go into spasm causing pain. Pain is usually a sharp pulling pain bilaterally in the lower abdomen and/ or pubic region in response to sudden movement like getting up from chair or changing direction.
Pregnancy Related Back Pain
Aches and pains in the upper or lower back region can arise at any stage of pregnancy and can vary in severity and presentation. Pain may present during activity or rest and may be due the body’s changing tolerance to particular postures, increased loads from breast and baby growth, baby position and tight/ weak back or core muscles.
How can physio help?
A physiotherapy assessment of your pain will look closely at the location and nature of the pain, contributing factors including previous history and aggravating activities and sensitivity of surrounding structures with specific movements.
After a specific diagnosis has been made, treatment may involve advice regarding specific movements / activities to avoid, hands on treatment such as massage or acupuncture, prescription of pain relieving exercises or stretches and sometimes the recommendations of particular support garments, taping or braces to assist in further symptom reduction during your pregnancy.
Regular exercise is also recommended for most low risk pregnancies and can be helpful to reduce pain if modified in the right way.
If you are experiencing any discomfort during your pregnancy you should also always discuss this with your doctor or obstetrician.