Pelvic girdle pain, or PGP, can occur during pregnancy, although it is not limited to this condition or to just women. Characterized by pelvic pain while performing normal tasks, such as walking and climbing stairs, PGP is a common and treatable condition even during pregnancy. Realigning your joints and soft tissues is often part of treatment. With its focus on flexibility and strength, yoga may be beneficial in treatment as well as prevention of PGP.
Pelvic Girdle Pain
PGP is often referred to as symphysis pubis dysfunction, or SPD. According to Pelvic Partnership Charities, however, SPD is a misnomer, because it implies that the condition is limited to the symphysis pubis area in the front of your pelvis. In fact, PGP is caused by a stiffness in one of the three joints in your pelvis, leading to asymmetrical movement and irritation in one of the other joints. Typically, your pelvic joints work in a ring-type system consisting of the symphysis pubis and two sacroiliac joints. Stiffness in one joint will irritate the others. You may not even feel pain in the joint where the stiffness occurs.
Treatment options for PGP will depend on the state of the patient. If you are pregnant, treatment will differ from that of an athlete with a sports injury. Regardless, it is a mechanical joint issue that responds well to treatment. Physical therapy and chiropractic work are done to manually realign your joints and manipulate your soft tissues, helping relieve pain. With a stiff joint, the surrounding muscles often become tight or compensate. This tightness has to be released to allow the joint to move normally and prevent further irritation in your pelvic girdle.
Yoga and Pelvic Girdle Pain
While yoga is not recommended as a stand-alone therapy, specific poses can be helpful in strengthening your pelvic muscles. By keeping your muscles strong and flexible, you can prevent joint stiffness and pain. Work with an instructor who is familiar with PGP and has previously worked with clients with the syndrome. If you are pregnant, ask about the instructor's experience with prenatal yoga as it relates to PGP.
A certified practitioner will guide you through the proper poses, or asanas, for your specific condition. Gentle asanas like Cat and Cow poses stretch your spinal column, including your sacroiliac joint. Staff pose is also beneficial for your pelvis; it may look simple, as you are seated with your legs stretched out in front of you, but the asana promotes strength in your back and hips. Lotus pose is a stretch for your hips and pelvic area, although you may need modifications because it is difficult to perform. It can be performed during even the late stages of pregnancy. Tree pose, which can also be performed during pregnancy, stretches your groin and hips while promoting balance and strength in your legs.