Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) in pregnancy- 4 ways to know if you’ve got it.

Lifespan Osteopathy Essendon / Pregnancy  / Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) in pregnancy- 4 ways to know if you’ve got it.

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) in pregnancy- 4 ways to know if you’ve got it.

Pelvic Girdle Pain or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) in pregnancy is a common condition.

Read on to find out if the pain that you’re experiencing fits into this category.

Pelvic Girdle Pain


There’s a lot of confusing information out there.


Google is a rabbit hole of information.  Sometimes you start looking and end up really wishing that you hadn’t. Some of those forums are full of horror stories!


For some mums-to-be, pelvic girdle pain (PGP) can be a very difficult condition to deal with. In our experience, though, many women who are able to get a diagnosis and the correct treatment and management strategies do quite well for the rest of their pregnancies.


If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re suffering some sort of back or pelvic pain that you associate with your pregnancy. However, you’re not quite sure how to label it.  Maybe you’ve seen another health practitioner with little relief. Or, maybe you haven’t seen anyone about it yet.


PGP is a common condition in pregnancy, affecting around 20% of expectant women.  Is this what’s affecting you?


By the time we get to see many of the pregnant ladies here at the clinic, they’ve had a chance to do a bit of reading and gather some ideas about what might be going on with them.


Many women presenting with pain in their pelvic area believe they may be suffering from pelvic girdle pain (PGP).


However, not all pain in the pelvis can be labelled as Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP).  You need to meet a few criteria first.


These criteria form an important part of our screening and assessment processes for pregnant women. This helps  give them an accurate diagnosis and management plan.


How many of these ‘boxes’ can you ‘tick’?


Pelvic Girdle Pain Symptom 1#:
You have pain anywhere in and around your pelvis.

This includes:

  • the region around what most people would call their ‘hips’ or ‘tailbone’,
  • the gluteal (buttock) muscles,
  • the bony part at the front of your pelvis, or
  • down the back of your upper thighs


In some women, pain in this region will only be in one location, such as in their right gluteal (buttock) muscles.  In others, they may have pain in more than one location, such as in both buttocks, or both sides of their pubic bone/groin area.


Regardless of whether you feel pain in one or multiple locations, it is important to determine if there is dysfunction occurring anywhere else in your pelvic area.  The reason for this is because of the roughly circular shape of the pelvis.


The easiest way to understand this is to imagine the pelvis as another round object, such as a hula hoop.  If you press on/squeeze one side of the hoop, it will bend at another point of the circle also.


What’s NOT included?

Pain in the lumbar spine (lower back), is not included in the definition of Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP). However, it can be present at the same time. If you only have pain in this area, check out our first trimester back pain post here, or second/third trimester back pain post here.


Pelvic Girdle Pain Symptom #2:
You can’t sit, stand or walk comfortably, or you can do any of these for a little while, but then it becomes uncomfortable.


This is because each of these positions puts a large amount of strain through the sacroiliac joints (SIJ’s). This is where the two ‘hip’ bones join together at the base of your spine.


During pregnancy the sacroiliac joints are loosened by a hormone called ‘relaxin’ . This help prepare your body for the process of giving birth.  Some people seem to be more susceptible to the development of a larger-than-usual movement through these joints. The research is unclear exactly why this is so. As a result, their joints become painful and irritated.


Walking in particular can be quite painful, as when you walk, one foot is off the ground for a large part of the gait cycle.  The other half of the pelvis supports all of your body weight when one foot is raised. Putting this strain through it tends to make the problem worse if this part of the pelvis is already irritated.


Pelvic Girdle Pain Symptom #3:
You fit into some or all of the following categories:


  • You have a history of lower back pain, or trauma to your pelvis.
  • You’ve had a baby (or babies) previously, and especially if you suffered PGP during this pregnancy(ies)
  • You do ‘heavy’ work, e.g. lifting, carrying, digging etc.


According to the European Guidelines for the management of PGP (which you can read here), these are the factors most likely to be associated with the development of PGP.


These guidelines also note that:

  • the time interval since your last pregnancy,
  • your height, age and smoking status

have no correlation with your likelihood of developing PGP.


Pelvic Girdle Pain Symptom #4:
You have pain when you perform the following moves:

    • Modified Trendelenberg Test- Stand up, with your feet about hip width apart. Buckle one knee slightly.  Both feet remain on the ground, and you don’t need to move any other region of your body..
      Pain in the pubic bone region at the front of your pelvis or in your tailbone area is a positive test.


    • Active Straight Leg Raise/ASLR- Lay on your back with your legs out straight. Attempt to lift one leg at a time straight upwards, to a height of around 20cms.   It is positive if you experience your pain when you lift your leg to any height less than 20cms.


If one or both of these tests is painful, it is more likely that you are actually suffering from PGP.


Was this information helpful?

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If you said ‘yes’ to a number of these, it’s quite possible that you may be suffering from PGP.


In order to know for sure though, it’s best you speak to your health professional.


If you’d like to learn more about this condition, you can read our post titled “10 things you need to know about PGP in pregnancy” here, and a simple self-management strategy here in “Golden Rule of PGP” post.


If you’re still struggling, though, we can help.


Our highly trained Osteopaths can diagnose PGP and give you tailored management strategies to make the rest of your pregnancy as pain-free as possible.


Give us a call on (03) 9372 7714, or book online today.