Postpartum hip and thigh pain is a relatively common ailment after a woman goes through the trials of pregnancy and labor. There is a variety of reasons for this pain, mostly stemming from changes the body makes to prepare for the child. Fortunately, this pain often goes away after a few months.
The pelvic region consists of numerous ligaments holding the leg bones, vertebrae and pelvis together. This is to allow motion mostly in the leg (rotating at the hip) but also so the trunk can flex and extend. There are also ligaments that suspend the uterus from the pelvis. These ligaments all stretch as the baby grows, which may cause sharp pains or a dull ache that even extends into the thighs. Additionally, there is a section of cartilage that holds part of your pelvis together, called the pubic symphysis, and this cartilage starts to stretch or even tear due to the growing child. During childbirth, the coccyx, or tailbone, may break, which may cause pain down the road. Lastly, the sciatic nerve, which runs from the base of the spine down through each leg, can become impinged due to the child putting pressure on it.
Most pain in the hips and thighs is a remnant of bodily changes that occurred during pregnancy. Some pain is due to events that happened during childbirth, while other pain may be attributed to carrying your weight differently without a pregnant belly but with a child in your arms. To pinpoint your pain, try to think back to if you had it before you gave birth, as this can help you determine the cause. Hormones may also be a culprit. Most of this pain will go away within a few months, but if it doesn't your doctor can run some tests to determine what exactly is causing the pain.
For most women, hip and thigh pain will be gone within three months after delivery. Since everyone is different, some women may have pain that goes on longer. If you're concerned that the pain is not dissipating or if it is limiting your daily activities, see your doctor.
Relieving the Pain
One way to relieve postpartum hip and thigh pain is to get a massage. The therapist will address your entire body, helping it to come back into alignment, while focusing on your back, thighs and glutes. The therapist may also stretch your legs to help bring back some flexibility. Another useful pain relief method is simple use of ibuprofen, a pain reliever.
Doing some exercises can help re-strengthen your pelvic girdle, which allows your posture to improve and hopefully your pain to decrease. Pelvic floor exercises as well as those that strengthen the core should be a part of your routine. Yoga can also be helpful. See a physical therapist for help, if needed. Vigorous exercise is not advised.