Pelvic girdle pain

Physios can play a key role in helping pregnant women with this condition, argues Sarah Fishburn.

Traditionally, Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) was viewed as hormonal, the ‘normal aches and pains’ of pregnancy, which would ‘go away as soon as the baby was born’. However, recent research into sacroiliac joint function has found their movement or asymmetry is linked to pelvic dysfunction and that there is no correlation between hormones and incidence or severity of PGP – great news for physiotherapists, whose key skills are restoring joint movement and function.

The Pelvic Partnership charity has been working with physiotherapists, midwives and women with PGP since 2002, raising awareness of the complex physical, emotional and psychological consequences of PGP, as well as the amazing impact that hands-on treatment can have in resolving symptoms

Women confirm that receiving manual therapy and walking out of the clinic with reduced pain and increased function, reaches far beyond that session, giving confidence that the problem can be resolved, that they can function and be pain-free again.

The consequence of not receiving manual treatment and of instead having the traditional approach of belt, crutches and advice, results in women becoming housebound, struggling to care for their
family, often becoming physically and emotionally withdrawn. There are profound implications for the NHS too

Not treating early can prolong recovery and increase costs. Women may require more treatment sessions, pain relief and induction to end the painful pregnancy. About 40 per cent of primiparous women who are induced require an emergency C-section, with ongoing treatment, pain relief, psychological support and future C-sections as well as the consequences of long-term pain on the woman and her family.

Physiotherapists have the profound ability to make this difference, keeping up-to-date with research evidence and providing manual therapy as soon as symptoms start, during or after pregnancy.

The Pelvic Partnership’s new ‘Stickmum’ leaflet will spread the word about the impact of PGP and how manual therapy can facilitate recovery. The peer-reviewed leaflet aims to encourage discussion and changes in practice so that women can recover quickly.

Sarah Fishburn is chair of the Pelvic Partnership

Sarah Fishburn

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