My story: my PGP did not go away when my baby was born like I was told it would!
When I was six months pregnant, I felt some strange pains in my groin area and shooting pains down my right leg. Concerned with the increasing pain, I asked the midwives at my ante natal appointments and also asked a female GP. I was told that it would go away after the baby was born and that it was probably sciatica and the weight of the baby bearing down.
This was my second pregnancy and I’d had no PGP during the first pregnancy, so I believed what I was told and thought that maybe this second baby would be a whopper. During the last three months of pregnancy, the pain would sometimes be so bad it would feel like everything was about to fall out of me and that I was going to collapse.
After the birth
After I gave birth to my baby daughter, my PGP became really bad. After 10 days, I was in agony, chair-bound and unable to walk across the room. A midwife, who visited me for a post natal check, told me that she thought I had something called Pelvic Girdle Pain and that I should go for physiotherapy. I got an appointment at my local hospital very quickly. The ‘women’s health’ physio checked my pelvic alignment and on only one occasion tried to give manual therapy on my pelvic joints. Thereafter, I was set exercises by her to strengthen my lower abdominal muscles.
During all future appointments, I stressed how much pain I was still experiencing and that I was barely able to walk as I was so wobbly on my feet. When sitting down, I had to put ice packs between my legs as the ‘burning’ pain was so bad. I could not carry out simple household tasks like bending down to put washing in the machine, or deal with my baby girl or three year old son. Not once did anyone tell me that I could receive occupational therapy.
Knees gave way
After three months of ongoing PGP, my knees gave way as they could no longer cope with compensating for the PGP. My knees were so painful that I could barely walk or get up and down stairs. I asked to change physiotherapist to one who I saw for the next nine months. She merely set me pelvic tilt exercises and gave no manual treatment at all. At this stage, I had not found the Pelvic Partnership and did not realise how I could have dealt with this situation
The physio kept telling me it was all down to ‘laxity of the ligaments’ and would improve greatly after I stopped breastfeeding, as the ‘hormones would then set-tle down’ (of course this is not the case and it made no difference although I had no awareness of this at the time). Because my knees were also so painful, I started paying to see other physios privately, who unfortunately thought that massaging my glutes and thighs plus setting me exercises, would solve the problem. Both of them claimed there was nothing wrong with my alignment. Meanwhile, I was regularly making appointments to see different GPs who were just as useless, merely prescribing anti inflammatory drugs and codeine painkillers which were not very helpful. I refused to take the anti depressants one doctor put me on as I kept explaining that I wasn’t depressed – I was distressed that no-one could help me to get better.
Finding the Pelvic Partnership
Overall, I wasted one and a half years in chronic pain until I came across the Pelvic Partnership, who suggested some practitioners in my area that other women had recommended for treating PGP. After one false start, I then saw a physio nearby who found misalignment in the pubic joint and successfully re-aligned it during the first session. Then I went to get a second opinion from Lucy Walmsley, a physio that I understand has helped a great many Pelvic Partnership members to overcome their symptoms of PGP. It was a long way for me to travel to the Cotswolds to see Lucy but it was worth it because she confirmed that my pubic joint had been realigned and she then worked on releasing stiff joints. I felt in much less pain after just one appointment with her!
The benefits of really good physiotherapy
I continued to see my local physio but I didn’t seem to be making any progress. So after two months, I went back to see Lucy instead, which was the best decision. However, it was tricky to find someone who could drive me over and also to arrange childcare. Lucy put very firm pressure on my pelvic joints to release those that had become stiff and stuck. After two appointments, I felt like a new person, approximately 60% better. I am now able to move much more normally and have returned to work. I will continue to see Lucy until I am fully better and I also now take Pregabalin medication for pain management, which I believe that GPs could have offered me a long time ago to help me.
I still feel angry and upset that my progress was so delayed by the other physios, who know so little about the condition. I have written complaints to each of them as I don’t want other women to go through all the difficulties I experienced and for so long before I got appropriate treatment. I have found having PGP very distressing, lonely and extremely difficult to cope with and particularly as I have only had my exhausted partner to help me. It has been two years now since my PGP began and we are both worn out with the physical practicalities and worries.
I want to say ‘thank you’ both to Pelvic Partnership and to my partner, Steve, for helping me. I still have some way to go with increasing my muscle strength but I know I am on the road to make a full recovery.
I would like to pass on my experience to other women in the same situation and recommend that women change their physio quickly if they don’t see improvements after each session.
Thank you very much for sharing your story with us, Julie, we hope you continue to see progress in your journey and that you are able to make a full recovery.