Skip to main content
Back to news homepage

RCOG release: Early diagnosis and treatment of pelvic girdle pain can improve a woman’s quality of life

News 26 June 2015

Pelvic girdle pain affects one in five pregnant women and can severely affect a woman’s mobility and quality of life. Early diagnosis and treatment should relieve pain and prevent symptoms from worsening, states new Patient Information published today by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

The pelvic girdle is a ring of bones around the body at the base of the spine. Pelvic girdle pain is pain in the front and/or the back of the pelvis. It is usually caused by the joints moving unevenly and the pelvic girdle becoming less stable. As a baby grows in the womb, the extra weight may put more strain on the pelvis.

Pain can be mild to severe, but is treatable at any stage in pregnancy and causes no harm to the baby. Symptoms include; pain in the pubic region, lower back, hips, groin, thighs or knees, clicking or grinding in the pelvic area and pain made worse by certain movements.

The information describes simple measures that can help and suggestions for treatment options if pain persists including advice on avoiding movements that may aggravate the pain, exercises to relieve pain, manual therapy and hydrotherapy.

Most women with pelvic girdle pain can have a normal vaginal birth. Going into labour naturally is better for mothers and their babies and most women with pelvic girdle pain do not need to be induced. In addition there is no evidence that a caesarean section will help women with pelvic girdle pain, and it may actually slow down recovery.

Pelvic girdle pain normally improves after childbirth, although 1 in 10 of women will continue to have symptoms, which require further treatment and regular pain relief.

Cath Broderick, Chair of the RCOG Women’s Network said:

“Being in severe pain and not being able to move around easily can be extremely distressing. Ask for help and support as early diagnosis and treatment can ease pain and enable you to carry out normal activities again.

“Pelvic girdle pain is not something you should have to put up with until your baby is born, so please seek advice from you GP, midwife or obstetrician.”

Geeta Kumar, Chair of the RCOG Patient Information Committee said:

“Pelvic girdle pain can be extremely debilitating and dramatically affect a woman’s day-to-day life.

“Symptoms and pain can be reduced with early diagnosis and continued support from a team of healthcare professionals. If the pain still persists, pain relief and aids or further assistance at home and work can help.”

Everything you need to know about pelvic girdle pain

What is pelvic girdle pain?
The pelvic girdle is a ring of bones around the body at the base of the spine. Pelvic girdle pain is pain in the front and/or the back of the pelvis. It is usually caused by the joints moving unevenly and the pelvic girdle becoming less stable. As a baby grows in the womb, the extra weight may put more strain on the pelvis.

How common is pelvic girdle pain?
Pelvic girdle pain is very common, affecting 1 in 5 pregnant women.

What are the symptoms of pelvic girdle pain?
Symptoms include; pain in the pubic region, lower back, hips, groin, thighs or knees, clicking or grinding in the pelvic area and pain made worse by certain movements. The pain can be mild to severe, but is treatable at any stage in pregnancy and causes no harm to the baby.

How can symptoms of pelvic girdle pain be improved?
Working with a physiotherapist, treatment options include; exercises, manual therapy, advice on avoiding movements that may aggravate the pain, hydrotherapy and acupuncture. Additionally, women can reduce symptoms by keeping active, changing position frequently and putting equal weight on each leg when standing.

What type of birth shall I have if I suffer from pelvic girdle pain?
Most women with pelvic girdle pain can have a normal vaginal birth. Going into labour naturally is better for mothers and their babies and most women with pelvic girdle pain do not need to be induced. In addition there is no evidence that a caesarean section will help women with pelvic girdle pain, and it may actually slow down recovery.

Will the pain ease following birth?
Pelvic girdle pain normally improves after childbirth, however one in ten women will have ongoing symptoms which require further treatment and regular pain relief.

Will I suffer from pelvic girdle pain in a future pregnancy?
If you had had pelvic girdle pain, you are more likely to have it in a future pregnancy. Making sure you are as fit and healthy as possible before you get pregnant again may help it from recurring.

Where can I find more information?
Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy (POGP): www.pogp.csp.org.uk
Pelvic Partnership: www.pelvicpartnership.org.uk

Ends

For further information, please contact the RCOG Media and PR team on +44 20 7772 6300 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk