Sciatica or Pelvic Girdle Pain? A Common Pregnancy Misdiagnosis

pain in leg or back during pregnancy

Pregnancy truly is a wonderful thing. I’ve actually really enjoyed being pregnant! Sure there are some not so enjoyable things that go along with it (hello heartburn!) but I’m learning to embrace it all. I wanted to talk about something in particular that has been an issue for me for weeks now…. PELVIC GIRDLE PAIN. 

Here is an updated pic of my baby bump!

At first I thought it was just a lower back thing I could get adjusted at the chiropractor I see on a regular basis. This guy is wonderful by the way, I started seeing him when I was having horrible headaches/migraines in my 1st trimester and he has helped me tremendously. Dr. Strathman in Kearney is who I see. I absolutely love him, he has a great background in fitness as well which is super helpful.  http://www.kearneyfamilychiro.com/  The particular pain in my back/butt remained and he explained to me it was most likely pregnancy related due to a hormone called relaxin that is released in pregnancy that affects your ligaments in your pelvis getting ready for baby.

What does it feel like? Quite frankly like someone was stabbing me in the top on my butt on my right side!

What does everyone think it is?? sciatica    I asked several women and all seemed to have the same response, that it was sciatic nerve pain.

Well I read EVERYTHING all the time and the more i researched it the more i didn’t feel like that is what was going on. I do not have any pain radiating down my leg. The more I read the more I seemed to find that sciatica didn’t seem to be pregnancy related, but rather related to an injury.  Then I found a great article about this! http://livelikeyouarerich.com/a-common-medical-misdiagnosis-that-pregnant-women-need-to-know/

So the more I researched the more I figured out I had pelvic girdle pain.

What is pelvic girdle pain?

  • According to WedMD:“Discomfort in the pelvic girdle usually occurs in the front or back of the pelvis. This is known as pelvic girdle pain or PGP. It was formerly referred to as symphysis pubis dysfunction or SPD. Because PGP often occurs during pregnancy, it is also referred to as pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain or PPGP.”What are the symptoms of PGP?According to WedMD:“Most often, the discomfort occurs over the pubic bone in the front, below your stomach, or across one or both sides of your lower back. There can also be pain in the perineum, the area between your vagina and anus. Some women experience pain in their thighs. Sometimes a pregnant woman can feel or hear clicking or grinding in the pelvic area. In pregnancy, the symptoms can be aggravated by the baby’s increasing weight, but it may get no worse.Being in an unbalanced position can make the pain more noticeable such as when:
    • Standing on one leg (such as when getting dressed)
    • Walking
    • Going upstairs
    • Turning over in bed
    • Moving your legs apart such as when getting out of a car.”

    Well there you have it! I was checking off the list all the way down for all of these symptoms. So obviously my next question was:

    How is PGP treated and what can you do/not do to help with discomfort?

    According to WedMD:

    The Association for Chartered Physiotherapists in Women’s Health (ACPWH) recommends taking the following actions for coping with PGP:

    • Avoid activities that make pain worse, but be as active as you can within your pain threshold
    • Rest whenever you can
    • Wear supportive, flat shoes
    • Get dressed and undressed in a sitting position – don’t stand on one leg to put on trousers
    • When getting in and out of a car, keep your knees together – you can sit on a plastic bag to help you swivel in the seat
    • Sleep in a comfortable position – a pillow between your legs can make sleeping on your side more comfortable
    • Go up or down the stairs one at a time – go upstairs leading with your less painful leg, but downstairs leading with the most painful one
    • Find a comfortable way to turn over in bed – try keeping your knees together and squeezing your buttocks as you turn over.

    If you have PGP, you should avoid the following:

    • Bending or twisting to lift
    • Standing on one leg
    • Sitting or standing for long periods
    • Crossing your legs
    • Squatting
    • Sitting on the floor or in a twisted position
    • Lifting or pushing heavy objects
    • Vacuuming
    • Carrying a baby on one hip
    • Carrying loads in only one hand.
Hallelujah! I had been doing so many things to make myself worse before finally figuring out my issue. My chiropractor agreed with me & gave me some extra exercises to incorporate into my day. I’m sharing them with you! Also make sure to do you squats & kegels to help strengthen your pelvic floor! I also asked my chiropractor about applying heat or cold. He said if you don’t have any radiating pain then using a heating pad is fine.

 Here are the exercises he gave me:

If anyone of my fellow pregnant women are experiencing any similar issues, I hope this may be of some help to you! Do your research, ask your own doctors, etc. Treating one issue you THINK you might have might actually make it worse if it is indeed misdiagnosed. Don’t suffer when they there are so many things that you can do! Really you can do a lot for a lot of unpleasant things that go along with pregnancy. The second biggest thing I suffer from is heartburn and acid reflux. BUT most of the time i get it it’s because I ate something I know I shouldn’t have or I ate too late before lying down. So know what you are dealing with and learn how to manage these things and pregnancy will be so much better!
Was this helpful? Have you had similar issues? What things have you done or avoided to help you?? 

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