Information for healthcare professionals
The Pelvic Partnership provides information and support to both women with PGP and healthcare professionals caring for women with PGP.
Current research shows that PGP is caused by the pelvic joints, particularly the sacroiliac joints, moving asymetrically or becoming 'stuck', and that the condition responds well to manual therapy from an experienced physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor. It can be treated at any stage during or after pregnancy with no risk to the baby, and failing to treat the pain promptly can result in prolonged symptoms, delayed recovery and on-going symptoms which may last for months or years postnatally. It can also have a significant impact on a woman’s emotional and psychological well-being both during and after pregnancy.
What is Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)?
- A condition which affects one in five pregnant women
- Pain and stiffness in one or more pelvic joints
- Asymmetry of movement, joint irritation and pain when walking, climbing stairs and turning over in bed
- In some cases, long-term pain and dysfunction after giving birth which can persist for months or years without treatment
- In around 7% of women, long-term pain and dysfunction, requiring crutches or a wheelchair to mobilise, can persist for over two years without treatment
For more information, see our 'What is PGP?' section
How can we treat PGP?
- PGP can be treated with manual therapy
- Refer for assessment and treatment of the pelvic joints and soft tissues by a manual therapist (physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor – NHS or private practitioner). Pain and function should improve after each treatment session
- Discuss pain relief options. Paracetamol is safe in pregnancy but often not effective, and stronger pain medication may be more beneficial. Click here for more information about the management of pain with PGP
- Be aware of the psychological impact of PGP as with other forms of severe pain and disability, and take appropriate steps to address this and provide support. Click here for more information about the psychological impact of PGP
When can PGP be treated?
- Early diagnosis and treatment can lead to full resolution or reduction in symptoms during pregnancy
- It is safe to treat at any stage during or after pregnancy, even if there is very severe pain
Click here for more information about treating PGP
How can we help with PGP during labour and birth?
- Ensure that the team is aware of PGP and its effects, and it is documented in maternity notes
- Avoid labour and birth positions which strain pelvic joints, e.g. lithotomy position
- Consider labour and birth in water and use upright positions, all fours or lying on one side
Click here for more information about PGP during labour and birth
What can we do postnatally?
- After birth, offer en-suite facilities and physical support with self-care and caring for the baby if in hospital
- Offer pain relief and refer for early review by the manual therapist
What is the Pelvic Partnership?
- A charity which offers support and information to women and healthcare professionals to raise awareness of pregnancy-related PGP. Click here to read more information about the Pelvic Partnership
- The Pelvic Partnership gives presentations about PGP to midwives, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, health visitors and other professionals involved in the treatment of pregnant women. Please contact us if you would like us to run an information session in your unit or clinic
- You can order any of our publications, please click here for more information or to order our 'Stickmum' leaflet for healthcare professionals please click here
- For more information, contact the helpline on 01235 820921 and leave a message for one of the volunteers to call you
For references please click here.
Content reviewed and updated in 2016.