PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain) is a condition which affects up to one in five pregnant women. It was commonly known as SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction), but this implies that only the symphysis pubis is affected, which is not usually the case.
There is a wide range of symptoms and the severity also varies between women. It is important to remember that PGP is a common and, in most cases, treatable condition. It can be safely treated at any stage during or after pregnancy. So if you have pelvic pain during or after a pregnancy, ask for treatment.
Can PGP occur at any stage during or following pregnancy?
PGP may come on suddenly, or start gradually. It can occur during birth – usually this happens if you have a difficult birth or are in an awkward position for labour or birth. It may also start after birth, sometimes weeks or months later.
PGP is assessed, managed and treated in the same way, whatever the cause and whenever it started.
Is it hormonal or a joint problem?
Although women are often told that Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is caused by their hormones, the up-to-date research shows that it is usually caused by a pelvic joint problem. PGP causes pain in any or all of the three pelvic joints. Often one joint becomes stiff and stops moving normally and this causes irritation in the other joints which have to compensate. As a result muscles may also be tight and painful. This normally responds successfully to treatment from an experienced manual therapist.
The pelvis is made up of a ring of three bones. They join together at the sacroiliac joints (at the back) and the symphysis pubis joint (at the front). These joints normally move a little bit to allow you to walk, turn over in bed, climb stairs, etc. Often the joint causing the problem is not particularly painful, so treating the painful point is unlikely to sort out the underlying problem.
Is it treatable?
YES! It is important to remember that PGP is a common and, in most cases, treatable condition. PGP can usually be treated effectively by 'hands-on' manual therapy from a physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor. The therapist gently uses their hands to reposition. An individual assessment is important to look at the position and symmetry of movement of your pelvic joints, to find out which joints are causing the problem and how this can be treated. You should walk out of each treatment feeling some improvement in either pain or function and preferably in both. Please see our treatment section for more information.
Other names for PGP
PGP, formerly known as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), is also often called Osteitis Pubis, and Pelvic Girdle Relaxation. The name really depends on whom you talk to about it. In fact, the name is not very relevant. What matters most is that it is recognised as a mechanical joint problem and treated as early as possible, and that it is safely treated in pregnancy.
PGP also occurs in sportsmen, such as rugby players, and they are treated quickly and effectively with the same range of techniques as those used for pregnancy-related PGP.
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