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:
- 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.
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.