Is it sciatica or pelvic girdle pain (PGP)?

By Jennifer Posen
JenniferMore than half of all pregnant women experience some, if not, a significant degree of pelvic and lower back discomfort during their term. And when lower back pain radiates into the buttocks and thighs, it’s often labeled as “sciatica”, a condition that is actually relatively uncommon.

True sciatica, which can be caused by a herniated or budging disc in the lower spine, affects only about 1% of all pregnant women.

More often, pain is experienced in the pelvis and lower back and not the sciatic nerve. Because this pain frequently locates itself in the buttocks, it’s often hard to understand the origin.

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP), which occurs in both posterior and anterior pelvis, low back, thighs and legs, is the significant cause of discomfort and even debilitating pain in pregnancy. The body’s production of the hormone Relaxin in pregnancy softens ligaments in the pelvis, giving more pliability and range of movement for the passage of the baby through the birth canal. This “unlocked” state of the pelvis affects all normal biomechanics and joint movement (standing up, sitting down, walking, climbing stairs.) Pain is oftentimes one sided, or moves side to side, and is heavily concentrated in the pelvis, but like sciatica, can also send shooting pain into buttocks, lower back, hips, and legs. It’s usually worse at night, and can begin as early as the first trimester or as late as the weeks or days before delivery.

Upon delivery, there is usually some or substantial relief, but the pain can take a few months to subside, depending on the severity. Carrying your baby and toddler on your hip can also cause lower back pain.

The most effective treatments: sleep side lying with a pillow between your knees, maintain an ongoing exercise program that develops pelvic strength (stretching, yoga, daily pelvic tilts, and swimming- an excellent non-weight bearing form of exercise) frequent massages, and acupuncture.

Jennifer’s education in massage combines the teachings of therapeutic body work, acupressure, deep tissue, reflexology, and pregnancy massage. If you want specific stretches or massage to help alleviate the pain email