Methods to Treat Chronic Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy


Written by Tidewater Physicians For Women on .
Methods to Treat Chronic Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy

Carrying a child can come with a whole onslaught of new pains and discomforts. Hormonal changes can cause muscle pain and body aches, your growing uterus will cause round ligaments to stretch and pull, and the added weight of the baby all concentrated in one place can lead to lower back pain and pelvic girdle pain. Adding chronic pelvic pain to an already uncomfortable pregnancy can make routine daily activities feel daunting or even impossible to complete. While pelvic pain during pregnancy is uncomfortable or inconvenient for most, it can cause severe pain in the worst cases.

This pain can make it difficult to care for yourself, take care of other children in the home, or work. There are many steps you can take at home to alleviate the symptoms of pelvic pain during pregnancy, but sometimes medical intervention is required. Continue reading to explore solutions that might help alleviate your pelvic pain, or come see one of our obstetricians today.

Why Does Your Pelvis Hurt During Pregnancy?

While any new pain might feel worrisome, pelvic pain is very common – even expected – in pregnancy. In most cases, it is not a cause for concern. The most common factors contributing to new pelvic pain in pregnancy are growth spurts, symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), pressure from the weight of the baby, and the hormone relaxin softening your ligaments to prepare your body for delivery.

Growth Spurts

When the baby goes through periods of rapid growth, so does your uterus. When this growth is rapid during a growth spurt instead of slow and gradual, the round ligaments supporting your uterus are stretched. This can cause dull aches and sudden, sharp pains.

Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction (SPD)

SPD, pelvic girdle pain, or pubic symphysis and is common in pregnant women. SPD is the result of a myriad of body changes in preparation for pregnancy and delivery which ultimately lead to pelvic pain and instability. SPD can make it challenging to scale stairs, roll over in bed, get in or out of the car, or even walk.

Pressure from Baby’s Weight

As the baby grows, the uterus puts increasing pressure on the lower body and pelvic floor. This can cause pain and pressure in the vagina, pelvis, or hips.

Relaxin

Your sacroiliac joint – between your spine and your pelvis – is supported by a network of ligaments that pull the joint together and stabilize it. In order to make room for your growing baby and uterus and ease childbirth, a hormone called relaxin is released during pregnancy, causing those pelvic ligaments to relax. While this is conducive to successful childbirth, it can lead to hypermobility in pelvic joints and pelvic pain during pregnancy.

What are the Symptoms of PGP?

PGP or pelvic girdle pain prevalence is high: it affects about 20% of all pregnant women. Having PGP in a previous pregnancy, a history of low back pain, previous pelvic injury, obesity, a job that’s physically demanding, and pregnancy with multiples are all risk factors for developing PGP.

You might be dealing with pelvic girdle pain if:

  • you experience pain at the pubic bone (front center of the pelvis, even with your hips)
  • you have pain on one or both sides of your lower back
  • you have pain in your perineum (the area between your bottom and your vagina)
  • the pain worsens when walking, standing on one leg, scaling stairs, rolling over in bed, or trying to move your legs apart

Some women also notice audible popping in their pelvis when trying to do one or more of the activities above.

Will Having Chronic Pelvic Pain Affect My Baby?

The good news is that pelvic girdle pain does not change pregnancy outcomes. Although the pain might limit what you can do in a day, most women with PGP or even chronic pelvic pain are able to deliver vaginally without complications. However, during delivery, it is also important to notify the delivery team that you have PGP. Once you receive an epidural, you will no longer feel pain if you spread your legs too far.

However, pelvic pain can be a cause for concern when it isn’t PGP. It’s important to see your obstetrician right away if you have pelvic pain along with any of the following symptoms.

Vaginal Bleeding

Vaginal spotting or bleeding along with pelvic pain during pregnancy requires prompt medical attention.

Severe Pain

If your pain is severe, it can be an indication that something more sinister is going on. Health professionals are trained to investigate and intervene if necessary in cases like these.

Chills or Fever

Fever or chills can be a sign of infection somewhere in your body; see your women’s health provider for diagnosis and treatment.

Lack of Fetal Movement

Whether you have pain in your pelvic area or not, if you were feeling baby move and now you’re not, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.

Lightheadedness

Lightheadedness might be a sign of an underlying problem; visit your OBGYN. Fainting requires immediate evaluation in urgent care, an emergency room, or an obstetric clinic.

Blood In Your Stool

If you notice blood in your stool (which can be dark in color and look like coffee grounds), visit your healthcare provider for evaluation. Blood in your stool should not wait until your next appointment.

Vomiting

While morning sickness is common, nausea and vomiting accompanied by pelvic pain during pregnancy should be checked out.

Fluid Coming From Your Vagina

If you are having pelvic or abdominal pain and notice fluid coming from your vagina, check with your OBGYN.

What Is the Best Treatment for Pelvic Girdle Pain?

Interventions for pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy range from rest and home exercise to physiotherapy. Common treatments include:

Steps at Home

There are several things you can do at home to help alleviate pelvic girdle pain and improve your quality of life:

  • Do as much as you can without causing pain; do not avoid movement altogether but if you notice pain, limit your range of motion to ensure pain-free movement
  • Wear shoes that are flat and supportive; avoid high heels, wedges, and other shoes that change the position of your hips and pelvis
  • Sleep in a comfortable position; try different positions until you find something that works, keeping in mind that a knee pillow is often helpful
  • Sit down when getting dressed so you do not have to stand on one leg at a time; ask for help if you need it
  • Adjust the way you climb up or down stairs; taking them one at a time or ‘scooting’ up them on your bottom might be easier
  • Take time to rest when you can; it’s important not to become inactive, but you still need daily rest. If you have a physically-demanding job, explore ways to adjust duties temporarily.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques (meditation, journaling, baths, etc.) to help reduce tension and take care of your mental health during your pregnancy; chronic pain can take a toll on mental health

A Pelvic Support Belt

Your OBGYN or physiotherapist can prescribe a pelvic support belt to help stabilize the pelvis and sacroiliac joint and prevent hypermobility. In most cases, insurance will cover the cost of the belt. Pelvic support belts are easy to use and many patients say that they feel almost immediate relief when they put it on.

Physiotherapy or Physical Therapy

If your OBGYN’s recommendations and a pelvic support belt are not helping, he or she might refer you to a physiotherapist. Often called pelvic, obstetric, and gynecological physiotherapy (POGP), a physiotherapist will develop a customized exercise program, administer manual therapy, and offer advice on daily activities and posture.

Will My Pelvic Pain Persist After Giving Birth?

For most women, pelvic pain is worst in the third trimester and resolves by about three months postpartum. However, some women experience chronic pelvic pain that can last for long periods of time – even before and after pregnancy. This goes above and beyond pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain and requires evaluation and treatment. Common causes of chronic pelvic pain include:

  • endometriosis
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • painful bladder syndrome
  • fibroids
  • chronic pelvic inflammatory disease
  • pelvic congestion syndrome
  • other conditions

Your provider can order diagnostic tests to determine whether your issues are related to weakened pelvic floor muscles from pregnancy or an underlying condition, and then recommend the most appropriate treatment. In any case, chronic pelvic pain requires evaluation to rule out more serious underlying conditions.

Chronic Pelvic Pain? See How an Obstetrician Can Help You Find Relief

If you are experiencing chronic pelvic pain, the team at Tidewater Physicians for Women can help. Whether your pelvic pain is pregnancy-related or a symptom of a larger problem, we have the diagnostic tools to get to the bottom of it and the expertise to treat it. We understand how hard it can be to get away with a new baby at home, but you’re best able to care for your little one when you’re healthy and pain-free. One quick appointment is the first step!

Do not live with pelvic pain when there are treatments available; call 757-461-3890 today to schedule an appointment.

Tidewater Physicians For Women

Written By Tidewater Physicians For Women

Tidewater Physicians For Women
Tidewater Physicians for Women is a division of Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care with offices in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia. Our practice takes comprehensive care to a higher level with a large team of experienced and qualified physicians, nurse practitioners, and two licensed counselors.
Tidewater Physicians for Women
a division of Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care
VA Beach

828 Healthy Way Unit 330
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Fax: 757-467-0301

Norfolk

880 Kempsville Road, Ste 201
Norfolk, VA 23502

Fax: 757-461-0836

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