Pregnancy Related Pain

During pregnancy your body will go through on going changes which can result in unwanted discomforts. Such issues can come and go throughout the pregnancy stage and some are quite common and easily treated.

Some of the most common discomforts are:

  • Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)
  • Symphisis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)
  • Hip Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Thoracic/Neck Pain

We will look at each of these in more detail below.

Firstly, it is important for you to realise that these discomforts are not always issues you simply have to grin and bear - there is help.

Physiotherapy techniques for pregnancy related pain and dysfunction

Following assessment and diagnosis, these are some of the treatments that are usually prescribed with considerable benefit:

  • Simple postural offloading techniques, increasing your daily comfort.
  • Gentle therapeutic exercises, ones to focus on and which to avoid.
  • Manual therapy techniques applied to joints, muscles and nerves around the affected region
  • Medical acupuncture and dry needling techniques are extremely effective and considered safe for treating pregnancy related pain and dysfunction throughout all stages of pregnancy (Smith, 2002)

For further information see published article by Simon Coghlan, Clinic principal, titled 'Acupuncture during pregnancy' 

Specific maternity braces and orthopaedic supports for the lower back and pelvis are sometimes recommended and implemented.

Appropriate techniques can resolve the issue in as little as only one session with a Chartered Physiotherapist. Depending on each individual case the number of treatment sessions required for optimal recovery and well-being will vary.

Now let's take a look at these common discomforts.

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)

1 in 5 women suffer Pelvic girdle pain and discomfort during and after pregnancy.
Symptoms of PGP is likely to be pain at the front and/or back of the pelvis and discomfort when walking, climbing stairs, turning over in bed and when standing on one leg trying to dress.

It is related to instability and possible mal-alignment of the pelvic bones, possibly caused by a combination of hormonal and mechanical changes occurring during pregnancy. These affect the integrity of the ligaments and function of the muscles in the pelvic area leading to discomfort.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) is when this pain is located mainly at the front of the pelvis over the pubic bone region. It can affect your ability to move without pain during pregnancy. SPD comes under the umbrella diagnosis of PGP.

Hip Pain

During pregnancy the type of hip pain is often felt only at night and not during the day.
Considerable pain can be felt when lying on the affected side and will shift when you turn over to relieve it.

This hip pain is caused by mechanical irritation and overloading of the gluteal muscles resulting in trigger points in these muscles. Trigger points are tender points in the affected muscles that refer pain to other areas of the body.

Medical acupuncture / dry needling is very effective on these trigger points.


A nerve pain running from your lower back and down the back of your leg as far as your ankle.

This nerve is called your sciatic nerve. The growing baby causes changes in posture i.e. increased lumbar lordosis which gives the pregnant woman an increased curve in the low back region. These changes can lead to irritation of the sciatic nerve causing pain and sometimes numbness in the bum region and back of the leg.

Thoracic/Neck Pain

Again, changes in the body; natural weight gain, postural changes, can commonly cause neck and mid back pain.
Postpartum the neck and upper back region can get painful due to feeding positions and lifting techniques while looking after your new born.

Following treatment and recommendations you will be far more ready to maintain your physical fitness and well being for you and your baby.

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