My story: successful treatment of my PGP
At 22 weeks’ gestation during my first pregnancy, I had a urinary tract infection and about the same time developed some left-sided lower back pain, which I assumed to be connected. However, it continued after the infection had been treated. Initially, the pain was difficult to localise but it became more apparent that the source of the pain was from my left hip. The pain would come and go in excruciating spasms, often when I had been sitting down or during the night.
The pain was so intense it would mean I couldn’t talk and often reduced me to tears. The only things I found helpful were either to try to change position from sitting into standing or to massage the left hip area (although both were often too painful to achieve without the help of my husband). I would wake several times a night crying out in pain. Thankfully the spasms only lasted about five minutes. I tried different positions and hot water bottles but nothing really helped. I also had a less intense pain that would occur if I walked too far or too quickly (if I forgot I was pregnant and set off at my usual speed) or particularly after pushing a trolley around Tesco.
My consultant referred me urgently at 24 weeks’ gestation for a physio assessment to try and improve my symptoms (the appointment has just come through 10 weeks after delivery!). I have a close friend who had Pelvic Girdle Pain during both her pregnancies so I actively sought her advice about how to try and improve things. I wasn’t sure at that time whether I had the same symptoms or condition as she had as I would have expected it to have been more of a constant ache rather than spasms of intolerable pain. Nevertheless, she advised me to seek help as soon as possible before it got worse and gave me the number of a private physiotherapist that she recommended.
My husband and I had a ‘babymoon’ in the Cotswolds when I was at 32 weeks. I took the opportunity to combine the trip with a physio appointment because the pain was still a problem, leaving me in agony most nights to the point that I dreaded going to sleep. At that time nothing had come through for the NHS physio (although my midwife had offered me generic, group classes on how to deal with pelvic pain in pregnancy which I did not feel would be any help at all as I knew from my friend that I needed manual therapy specific to my problem).
When I met with the private physio, Lucy Walmsley, whom my friend had recommended, I felt I could trust her. When she examined me, she told me that the problem was due to Pelvic Girdle Pain and that there was no movement in one of the joints in the left side of the pelvis as it had completely stiffened up. She reassured me that it was pregnancy-related and with manual therapy, it should resolve. I was able to discuss my concerns as to how the pain would affect delivery and she gave me some advice.
She then set about manipulating my pelvis for about 10 minutes which I have to admit was a bit painful both during and for about 48 hours afterwards. However, this one session of treatment was a turning point for me. I had no further spasms of pain throughout my entire pregnancy. I kept waiting for the original symptoms to return but, thankfully, they never did. My pain was effectively cured with 10 minutes of manual therapy from someone who knew what they were doing and took the problem seriously. It was money well spent, especially as the NHS was unable to offer any help.
I delivered a healthy little girl in February and Sophie and I are having great fun together and my pelvis is back to normal!
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, Naomi. It is frustrating to hear that women are still being offered group rather than individual sessions for PGP. To think that the appointment to see the NHS physio came through after the arrival of your baby! We are really pleased that you were able to see Lucy, who has successfully treated many women who have contacted the Pelvic Partnership, and that she was able to help you make such a speedy recovery.