Pelvic Girdle Pain in Pregnancy

By Dr. Alison Gault

Pelvic girdle pain is a set of very commonly occurring symptoms in pregnancy and includes the conditions of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, sacroiliac joint instability, diastasis symphysis pubis and pubic symphysis dysfunction. These conditions are all linked as they have very similar set of symptoms but with a different intensity and differing primary source of pain. They can also occur together because the anatomy of the pelvis is like a bowl with all the bones connected in a circle. If one of the joints is effected or dysfunctional, so will the others. For the purpose of simplicity, we have named the conditions for where the majority of the pain is being experienced. Is most cases, there will also be symptoms occurring at the other pelvic joints simultaneously. The term is now universally accepted as pelvic girdle pain, and is one of the more acute versions of pelvic pain.

Anatomy of the pelvis

The sacroiliac joints lie below the dimples in your low back.  This is the joint  between the Innominate bones (A) and the Sacrum (B).  pelvic girdle pain

These joints are involved in movements of the low back and hips such as walking, moving between sitting and standing, climbing stairs etc.

The pubic symphysis is the joint (E) at the front between the two innominates (A) at the pubic ramus (D).  This joint rotates especially in the gait or walking cycle.

  •     A: Innominate Bone
  •     B: Sacrum
  •     C: Acetabulum or groove for the top of the femur making hip joint
  •     D: Pubic Ramus
  •     E: Pubic Symphysis or joint
  •     F: Ischial Tuberosity or sit bone


Products for relief of pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain

Compression garments that supports the pelvis and aid in activating the pelvic girdle and floor muscles may provide some relief.

Pregnancy belts help to gently compress the sacroiliac joints to increase stability whilst still enabling full functioning of the pelvic muscles to avoid muscle wasting.

The wide supportive band of the belly supportive garments aid in lifting the weight of the belly off the pelvis to reduce strain.

The couple it underwear release system  enables you to put your underwear on seated removing the need to stand on one leg which can greatly aggravate symptoms of pelvic girdle pain.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Pelvic girdle pain is primarily experienced at the sacroiliac joints and tends to be a deep ache with a sharp grabbing sensation with certain movements such as standing up from a seated position.

This condition tends to be a result of muscle imbalance within the pelvis due to tightness or weakness which effects the joints ability to move freely and symmetrically.   Sacroiliac joint dysfunction can occur in any person and is not specific to pregnancy.   Follow the link to find out more about sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

Sacroiliac Joint Instability

Pelvic girdle pain is primarily experienced in the sacroiliac joints but to a much greater intensity than with sacroiliac joint dysfunction. This pelvic girdle pain condition that is only associated with pregnancy and can become very debilitating especially in the final month with a small percentage of women requiring a wheelchair or crutches to move around.

This condition is a result of the increased levels of the hormones relaxin, estrogen and progesterone which act to soften the pelvic ligaments to enable birth.  In some women, especially those with prior history of low back pain, the ligament softening occurs more than normal and results in the sacroiliac joint not being stable.  Follow the link to find out more about sacroiliac joint instability  in pregnancy.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

Pain is primarily experienced at the pubic symphysis joint at the front of the pelvis with the joint widening remaining within the normal limits for pregnancy of under 9mm. Pain may also be experienced in the sacroiliac joints, gluteal muscles and the inner thigh muscles.

This condition occurs due to muscular imbalance from weakness or tightness that prevents symmetrical of full movement of the pelvic joints. This condition can occur to all people and is not specific to pregnancy. Follow the link to find out more about pubic symphysis dysfunction in pregnancy.

Diastasis Sympysis Pubis

Pain is primarily experienced at the pubic symphysis with the joint widening greater than the normal limits for pregnancy of 9mm.  Pelvic girdle pain and disability is much greater than with pubic symphysis dysfunction.  As well as muscluar soreness, many women also experience a clicking or clunking sensation with this condition.

This condition occurs due to the effects of the hormones relaxin, progesterone and estrogen that naturally increase with pregnancy to soften ligaments to facilitate birth.  Some women however seem to be effected more by these hormones and the joint widening is greater than normal.  Follow the link to find out more about diastasis symphysis pubis in pregnancy.