How Pelvic girdle pain is caused during pregnancy

Pelvic girdle pain refers to musculoskeletal conditions affecting the sacroiliac joints, symphysis pubis and surrounding ligaments and muscles. It will affect about 1 in 5 Northern Beaches mothers but can also develop outside of pregnancy.[1]

The pelvic girdle is a ring of bones around your body at the base of your spine and when the three joints in your pelvis work together normally, they move slightly. Pelvic girdle pain is usually caused by the joints moving unevenly, which can lead to the pelvic girdle becoming less stable and more painful.

What does pelvic girdle pain feel like?

“I’m normally like a socially active person. It has made me the most miserable anti-social person. . .cos I’m in too much pain”

 “Constantly feeling like your pelvis is going to fall off.[2]

Pelvic girdle pain used to be known as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), but it still causes the same high level of pain it always did.

Pelvic girdle pain can affect your mobility and sharp pain when you are walking, climbing stairs and turning over in bed are common symptoms.

What are the symptoms of PGP?

Symptoms include:

  • pain in the pubic region, lower back, hips, groin, thighs or knees
  • clicking or grinding in the pelvic area
  • pain made worse by movement

However, early diagnosis and treatment can relieve your pain. Treatment is safe at any stage during or after pregnancy.

What causes Pelvic girdle pain?

As your baby grows in the womb, the extra weight and the change in the way you sit or stand can put more strain on your pelvis. You are more likely to have pelvic girdle pain if you have had a previous back or pelvis condition or have hypermobility syndrome; a condition in which your joints stretch more than normal.

What are my treatment options?

Your Fixio physio will be able to suggest the right treatment for your needs. This may include:

  • advice on avoiding movements that may be aggravating the pain
  • exercises that strengthen your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles and can help relieve your pain and allow you to move around more easily.
  • manual therapy to gently mobilise the joints and help them move normally again. This should not be painful.
  • warm baths, or heat or ice packs
  • acupuncture or dry needling. Women receiving acupuncture or physiotherapy reported less intense pain in the morning or evening than women receiving usual antenatal care[3]

Pelvis girdle pain is not something you just have to put up with until your baby is born. The outcomes for women with pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy are good, with 9 out of 10 of women reporting most symptoms subside after about 3 months of giving birth. However, pelvic girdle pain frequently recurs in subsequent pregnancies, with the painful symptoms no less painful.


[1] Chou LH, Slipman CW, Bhagia SM, Tsaur L, Bhat AL, Isaac Z, et al. Inciting events initiating injection-proven sacroiliac joint syndrome. Pain Med 2004;5(1): 26e32.

[2] Clarkson, C. E., & Adams, N. (2018). A qualitative exploration of the views and experiences of women with Pregnancy related Pelvic Girdle Pain. Physiotherapy, 104(3), 338–346.

[3] Pennick V & Young G (2007) Interventions for preventing and treating pelvic and back pain in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Sys Rev 2007 Issue 2. Art. No.: CD001139.

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