My Story: the value of good manual therapy and a wonderful product

By Anita Johnson

My name is Anita and I have been a member of the Pelvic Partnership for just under four years. I wanted to pass on the benefits of good manual therapy and how important it is to take care of yourself between treatment sessions. One of the best ways of doing this for me was to make a purchase of equipment created and sold by a woman who also had PGP and featured in a previous article about PackaPouch™. Having a baby is often a very expensive time for new mums but I think this product is worth its weight in gold because it helped me to avoid overdoing practical tasks (i.e. bending and twisting to do chores really brought on my PGP symptoms) …but I am getting ahead of myself!

PGP symptoms

My PGP symptoms were not spotted during my first pregnancy four years ago and when I gave birth, the symptoms were made worse with a forceps delivery where a well-meaning but misguided midwife opened my legs too wide, beyond a width that I could tolerate. My experience of PGP had been very challenging ahead of the birth but afterwards, I found my legs just wouldn’t support me and I had severe pain around my pelvis and sometimes shooting down my legs. To get me out of the hospital, my husband found a wheelchair and it was such a relief not to try and walk that we hired one the next day from the Red Cross. I was appalled at the idea of needing to use a wheelchair to get around but it did help. I think the horror was that I had visions of having to use one for the rest of my life. Luckily, my sister-in-law is a GP and when she and my brother came to visit us and meet my baby, Amy, she recognised the symptoms of PGP and put me in touch with the Pelvic Partnership. This was a lifeline for me as it gave me real hope that my situation wasn’t down to rough handling during childbirth but was due to a recognised biomechanical problem from which I had a very good chance of making a full recovery.

The charity helps me to regain my hope

The Pelvic Partnership told me about the importance of manual therapy to release the stiff joints of my pelvis and help me to start walking without pain again. I had a few false starts with physios at the local hospital before finding a private physio who has been wonderful. I’d read in the charity information that a sports physio can often provide much needed manual therapy and there was a clinic just down the road from me so I was desperate to try them out. The only woman sports physio was Gillian, who hadn’t come across PGP before, but was very excited at the challenge and really worked hard to sort out my pelvis. In our first session she asked a lot of questions and then gently made me bend and move around while she examined how my pelvic joints were working. I almost didn’t return for the second session a week later because I felt even worse the next day and didn’t feel up to doing much. It was as if I had bruises all over my pelvis and lower back but thankfully, these subsided after a couple of days and I realised that my legs didn’t give out when I put my weight on them.

The skills of the sports physio I consulted

The next week I went back to the clinic. I had also read somewhere that the site and level of pain isn’t really needed in any diagnosis of the problems, so I took a painkiller ahead of the session, which took some of the sharp pain away when sore areas of my pelvis were being manipulated. Gillian had brought in a colleague who was also a sports physio from their clinic some miles away in Bedford but one who had more experience of women’s health issues and knew about PGP. Together they agreed that my pelvis was slightly misaligned and probably resulted from my sacroiliac joints being very stiff at the back. I experienced some odd muscle spasms during and after that treatment session but already I was finding I could manage walking more successfully and without as much pain. I also found that I could sit down and stand up carefully without shooting pains down my legs. Probably like most women, as soon as I started to glimpse some progress, I over did it and found myself in agony. My mum had stayed to help with Amy initially but she had to return home and my husband was often away on business. This is when I realised that I had to pace myself and avoid any twisting or lifting which seemed to aggravate my difficulties and make my sore back even worse.

The amazing PackaPouch™ product

I read about PackaPouch™ in one the charity’s articles and realised that it would help me when I used the wheelchair every time I was out and about. In some respects it resembles a rucksack which you wear on your front with a wide aperture and a drawstring to hold items inside. Having said that, it was waterproof and much prettier – but best of all – it could swallow much more than the average rucksack. I used it a great deal when I was in the wheelchair because it left my hands free. In addition, it helped with a multitude of tasks in and around home. It was great carrying washing or transferring it or groceries around the kitchen. Where it was particularly good was carrying items with the weight evenly balanced between both sides of my body; any carrying to one side on my hip or twisting seemed to make the symptoms flare up again.

How this product helped me

The PackaPouch™ means that weight is carried very evenly because the pouch is supported by straps around my shoulders. It was amazing just what I managed to carry around: the range of items and the amount of stuff I could cram in! I don’t think it was advertised for the purpose but often the baby Amy would sit on my lap, sitting in the PackaPouch™ with the drawstring around her head and arms, keeping her secure as I chatted to friends over a cup of tea.

One of the things that really appealed to me was that it removed my worry and fear of pain when I lifted a heavy load or bent for cumbersome items. I knew that if I was careful, didn’t rush, bend or do too much, the PackaPouch™ would help me to move and get myself around the house without the searing pain that I had felt before. Best of all, I have two hands free if I am carrying washing or toys upstairs or perhaps taking work stuff out to the car. I know my PGP symptoms were not as severe after I started using it and I had much less back pain. I was very good about having regular manual therapy sessions but even so, I am positive that this amazing purchase contributed to my recovery. When I no longer needed the wheelchair and used crutches for a while, the PackaPouch™ was a godsend for household chores and very versatile. Even though my PGP is really very much better now, I still use the PackaPouch™ every day and wouldn’t be without it. I wore one out (just from so much usage – it’s a good, well-made product) and bought a Deluxe version to replace it! I have been buying them for friends who are pregnant and regardless of whether they have had PGP or not – they can all benefit and have found it really useful. There’s more good news with the price: it may have gone up since but my most recent version cost around £20.

Thanks, Anita, for sharing the benefits of the PackaPouch™ and how you believe it has helped in your recovery from PGP (together with good manual therapy sessions) because it is the need to bend and twist which really irritated your PGP symptoms.  For more information about PackaPouch, please visit Mary Campbell’s Facebook page:

Charity Registered in England: 1100373 

The Pelvic Partnership consists of volunteers who have had pelvic girdle pain (PGP) and wish to support other women. We aim to pass on information based on both research and the experience of other women with PGP. We are not medical professionals and cannot offer medical advice and the information we provide should not take the place of advice and guidance from your own health-care providers. Material on this site is provided for information and support purposes only.

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