Pain medication and PGP

The cause of pain in PGP is usually due to an underlying joint problem which is treatable with hands-on manual therapy treatment from an experienced manual therapist (physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor). Sometimes you may find that your pain is difficult to manage between treatments and decide that you need some painkillers to help to relieve the pain in addition to the manual therapy. It is important to discuss medication choices with your GP if you feel your pain is not well controlled. Pain relief medication is available to buy over the counter at your local pharmacy, but it is helpful to talk with your midwife or GP to make them aware that you have severe pain and what pain relief you are using. It is often a case of trial and error to find the pain medication that is most effective for you, so do not be too downhearted if the first product you try does not help. Although PGP is a common condition, your GP may be relatively unfamiliar with its treatment and you may have to stress your need for pain relief if you have severe pain.

Pain relief during pregnancy

Many women find that during pregnancy, GPs not used to managing PGP may be unwilling to prescribe anything stronger than paracetamol. Most women find that paracetamol only takes the edge off the pain and need something more effective. In this case you can ask for a referral to a consultant (e.g. an obstetrician) who has more experience of pain management during pregnancy.

Acute and chronic pain 

Acute pain describes a pain which you have had for a relatively short time. It can range from mild to severe pain, so the acuteness describes the length of time you have had the pain rather than the severity. Chronic pain describes pain which has lasted more than three months, and again it may range from mild to severe pain. 

Pain relief for chronic pain

There are two different types of chronic pain; neuropathic and non-neuropathic which are explained on our ‘Acute or chronic pain?’ page. There are different medications available to treat these different types of pain so it can be helpful to make a note of how your pain feels (e.g. if it is sharp, dull ache, consistent or comes on at certain times of the day) to help your GP to prescribe the right type of pain relief medication for you. If your GP has tried a range of options and your pain is not well controlled then a referral to a specialist pain clinic may be helpful for a more holistic approach to pain management. For more information about the treatment and management of chronic pain please see our ‘Understanding chronic (persistent) pain’ page. 

Nerve block

An injection may be used to temporarily block the nerve carrying the pain messages, and it can also be used to help diagnose the source of chronic pain. However, this is generally not very useful in PGP as it does not treat the underlying cause of the problem, only the symptoms, and as it is an injection, it is invasive. If it is being offered, it is worth thinking again about whether you are really receiving the most effective manual therapy possible and whether a second opinion might give you a better result. Your manual therapist may recommend a nerve block if your symptoms are very irritable.

More information about pain medication
  • If you would like information about specific medications this can be found in the British National Formulary (BNF).
  • The contraindications and side effects of all medications can also be found in the leaflets provided by the manufacturers, so do read them before starting to take any medication. It is usually best to take painkillers with food to reduce any potential irritant effects on the stomach.
  • For information about which type of pain medication you can take when breastfeeding please visit the breastfeeding network.

Content reviewed and updated in 2018.

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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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