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Hip pain during pregnancy

Hip pain during pregnancy is common for a variety of reasons

Hip pain during pregnancy is common for a variety of reasons. Although bodyweight may vary over different parts of your life, this almost always occurs gradually, whether gaining or losing weight. This means that the joints, along with stabilising soft tissue around the joints and muscles, all have time to adapt to these different stresses.

Some of the reasons you may experience hip pain during pregnancy include:

  • a history of lower back or pelvic girdle pain
  • previous injury to the pelvis (for example, from a fall or accident)
  • having PGP in a previous pregnancy
  • a physically demanding job
  • being overweight
  • having a multiple birth pregnancy

On average, during pregnancy, women may gain as much as eleven to eighteen kilograms. Furthermore, the majority of this weight gain is over the second and third trimester. This signifies very rapid weight gain and due to this, the hip joints may struggle to adapt to these increased stresses.

The heavier you are, the more load is placed on your hip, your back, your knees and the muscles, tendons and ligaments associated with them. This can cause hip flexor pain or lower back and hip pain on one side.

The second cause for an increase in hip and pelvic pain during pregnancy is that a hormone known as relaxin is released in significant quantities. Relaxin relaxes and softens the ligaments and joint capsules around the pelvis, allowing for an easier passage of the baby in childbirth. In spite of this obvious advantage, lower back and hip pain during your pregnancy may be related to this weakening of the pelvis and hip joint capsule and ligaments.

In order to maintain appropriate balance with the baby bump, pregnant women will either tilt their pelvic forwards (anterior pelvic tilt) or backwards (posterior pelvic tilt) and flex their knees. These adaptations place the hip joints and hip flexors in an abnormal posture for the majority of the pregnancy and is, therefore, a third possible contributory factor.

The pain can be worse when you're:

  • walking
  • going up or down stairs
  • standing on 1 leg (for example, when you're getting dressed)
  • turning over in bed
  • moving your legs apart (for example, when you get out of a car)

In very rare circumstances when women are unable to weight bear due to hip pain or instability, they are advised to offload their weight and seek an urgent healthcare consultation.

It is important to speak to your GP or a specialist about receiving a diagnosis and appropriate treatment for your hip pain. We uncover the possible causes of your hip pain and explain how specialists at our hospitals can offer a diagnosis and help treat your hip pain.

We approach any treatment for hip pain with the belief that the optimal benefits are seen when they are tailored to your personal needs and abilities. Our physiotherapists will develop an exercise and rehabilitation programme that is just for you. This will usually involve some form of exercise and stretching, but may also involve specific manual mobilisation techniques.

As you progress, you may be encouraged to add rubber resistance bands to your exercise programme. These bands provide different levels of tension, helping your muscles to adapt to working against greater resistance.

Over time, your physiotherapist may introduce weighted exercises, but this will always be done slowly, sensibly and under their careful supervision to avoid any possibility of injury.

Physiotherapy is not always easy. Exercises and stretches may be challenging, and you will find some of them difficult, particularly in the early stages. While this is to be expected, you should always stop if you experience pain at any time.

Pain in and around your hip can be difficult to live with, especially when it’s severe or long-term. Good treatments, including assessment and support from an experienced physiotherapist, are available to relieve your pain and restore better mobility to your hip once more.

If you would like to talk with a physiotherapist about hip exercises to help manage your hip pain, book an appointment online today. We are here to help you and look forward to hearing from you.

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