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What is pelvic girdle pain?

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is pain which is felt around the pelvic joints, lower back, hips and thighs. Around 1 in 4 pregnant women experience PGP.

It can vary from mild to severe. The symptoms can be different for each woman. Although this pain is common, it is not a normal part of pregnancy.

Talk to your GP, midwife or physiotherapist if your symptoms:

  • do not improve within a few weeks
  • interfere with your normal activities

Symptoms of pelvic girdle pain

Symptoms can vary and may be more severe for some women. You may have pain or discomfort in any or all of the following places:

  • over your pelvis, especially at the pubic bone at the front
  • along your groin area
  • below your tummy
  • in your hips
  • across one or both sides of your lower back or buttocks (bottom)

Difficulty with movements

You may have difficulty with certain movements including:

  • walking
  • putting your weight on one leg at a time, such as climbing stairs, dressing, getting out of the bath
  • parting your legs - for example, getting in and out of a car
  • hip movements, such as turning in bed
  • lying on your back or side

When to get help

Ask your midwife, obstetrician or GP for help if the pain or discomfort:

  • interferes with your normal daily life
  • does not improve within a week or two

They may refer you to:

  • a chartered physiotherapist who specialises in women's health
  • another healthcare professional, like an occupational therapist

They can sometimes give you equipment to help you to manage better at home.

Causes of pelvic girdle pain

Pelvic girdle pain can be caused by a combination of factors.

  • Pregnancy hormones make your ligaments looser. This can lead to increased or uneven movements in the pelvis and the extra movement can cause pain.
  • As your baby grows, this can change your posture and put strain on the pelvis and lower back.
  • Your pelvic girdle joints can become misaligned. This happens because of changing muscle activity and increased movement. It can cause pain and discomfort.
  • Having a history of back pain.
  • The position of the baby.

page last reviewed: 24/06/2019
next review due: 24/06/2022