Ease the pain with the right therapy

Sacroiliac joint pain (SIJ pain) is discomfort which, unfortunately, is part of life for many pregnant women. Below are some tips that can help soothe the pain.

Ingela Ågren

3 min read

Reviewed by Ingela Ågren

Licensed midwife

Ease the pain with the right therapy
Photo:Preggers

During pregnancy, the joints in the body become lax, particularly around the pelvic bones, as they need to widen during delivery. This may cause pain in the pelvic and lumbar regions, as well as the hips, groins, buttocks, the back of the thighs, and across the pubic bone. SIJ pain is not a serious illness for the mother or the baby, but it can be highly distressing and painful. It prevents many women from moving around and functioning normally during pregnancy. Being overweight is an obvious risk factor for SIJ pain as the weight adds extra pressure on both the back and pelvis. Previous back issues and genetic hypermobility are other risk factors. No proven hereditary predisposition exists. More than 50% of all pregnant women are affected, many of whom experience severe discomfort. It varies from woman to woman as to when the pain occurs. Some do not experience pain until towards the end of pregnancy, while others have pain in the early stages. The cause can be linked to previous pregnancies with SIJ pain. The pain often (but not always) starts early in women who have been through a pregnancy previously. 

SIJ pain can be treated with good results. Surveys show that many women experience more pain and discomfort than necessary. Treatments by a licensed physiotherapist can ease your symptoms. Experienced physiotherapists who work with pregnant women have important knowledge of muscle tension in the back and the pelvis and are happy to work with your doctor and midwife.

The increased load on the body requires more stability around the pelvic bone, such as abdominal, back, and leg strength. A weakness in the stability of these muscles means the back and the pelvis have to handle the force, which otherwise would be transmitted effectively throughout the body. With a relatively non-invasive provocation test, a doctor or a physiotherapist can diagnose the pain and determine suitable treatment for you. A personal training program will be designed for your particular situation to guide you to exercise properly during your pregnancy.

All kinds of physical activity strengthen the abdominal and pelvic girdle muscles. Keeping active and being mobile increases blood circulation, which eases the pain. It is important to have a reasonable dose of daily exercise. It is better to take short bike rides and slow walks, rather than long and intensive ones. Vary your position often and don’t sit cross-legged or sit still too long. Place a pillow between your legs when sleeping. Avoid arching, sit on your sitting bones, and straighten your back as much as possible. Be aware of your body’s signals and refrain from doing anything that hurts. And most importantly, if you are suffering from discomfort and pain – don’t refrain from asking for help. In most cases, SIJ pain disappears a few weeks after delivery. Talk to your midwife as soon as you experience pain in your lumbar or pelvic regions; she is likely to be able to help you straight away.

Source: Swedish Health Care Guide

Ingela Ågren

Reviewed by Ingela Ågren

Licensed midwife