Sacroiliac joint pain constantly weighs on your mind during pregnancy – and strains your body. You anxiously await holding your precious newborn. But chronic stabbing pangs in your back, hips and groin are worsening by the day. Basic tasks become impossible…even rolling over in bed.
You desperately want relief – for yourself and your baby – but wonder if enduring this agony is just “normal” for pregnancy?
It’s not. Left untreated, sacroiliac joint issues trigger lasting dysfunction. Luckily, targeted physical therapy finally offers pregnant women real solutions to alleviate your sacroiliac joint pain. Read on for insider answers.
What is Sacroiliac Joint Pain?
The aptly named “sacroiliac” (SI) joints anchor your spine to your pelvis. Specifically, your sacrum (triangular bottom of your spine) connects to both iliac bones of your pelvis via sturdy SI joints on each side.
These small but mighty joints provide stability while allowing your upper and lower body to smoothly move together during bending, walking etc. Without healthy SI joints, movement would grind and crush your spine!
During pregnancy, several factors strain the SI joints:
- Relaxin Hormone – This aptly named hormone increases to relax the ligaments of your pelvis…but potentially over-stretches the SI joints.
- Weight Gain – Extra pregnancy pounds stress SI joint alignment and strength exponentially.
- A Growing Belly – Your shifting center of gravity strains SI stability.
As SI joints slide abnormally, pain strikes. Agony often shoots into the hips, groin and thighs amid achy low back discomfort.
Left untreated, pain worsens over weeks. SI joint instability triggers lasting dysfunction hampering posture, mobility and more down the road.
Luckily, targeted physical therapy relieves sacroiliac joint pain and gets mom and baby comfortably to the finish line.
Why Does Sacroiliac Joint Pain Strike?
Several factors during pregnancy spark sacroiliac joint pain:
- Relaxin Overdrive – This appropriately named hormone increases to…well…relax mom’s ligaments for delivery. But possibly over-stretching the SI joints.
- Weight Gain Stress – 30+ pounds gained during 40 weeks naturally stresses the SI joints’ strength exponentially.
- Shifting Center of Gravity – As your pregnant belly rapidly expands outward, your center of gravity shifts, straining the SI joints’ stability.
- Postural Changes – Standing upright becomes increasingly difficult. Slouching strains SI joints further.
- Widened Pelvis – Making “room” for baby, a hormonal cradle widens and softens your pelvis – altering SI joint alignment.
This perfect storm of anatomical changes over nine months gradually strains the SI joints. Pain results.
And remember…sacroiliac joint pain doesn’t end after birth! Post-delivery, the SI joints remain vulnerable as relaxin lingers. Plus violent delivery forces also tweak alignment. Mom’s agony often persists months postpartum.
2 Main Triggers of Sacroiliac Pain During Pregnancy
Two primary issues spark mom’s sacroiliac joint pain.
First - Excessive SI Joint Laxity
The aptly named relaxin hormone increases 10-fold during pregnancy, its purpose? Painlessly relax those stiff ligaments around mom’s pelvis for delivery.
But possibly OVER relaxing the SI joints…
These double-jointed connections no longer snugly stabilize the pelvis to spine. Instead, weak links in the chain rattle during movement. Sloppy, unstable mechanics aggravate nerves and tissue.
Picture a creaky hinge swinging on an old gate. It loosely grinds and pinches with each swing. Those unguarded motions spark pain over time…
Additionally, 35 extra pregnancy pounds gained on average naturally stress and strain lax SI joints exponentially. Combine unstable, loose joints with added weight – this spells dysfunction.
Second - SI Joint Malalignment
Simultaneously, mom’s entire foundation shifts to make “room” for baby…
A widening pelvis softens and spreads apart – moving SI joint orientation out of neutral alignment.
Next, a rapidly expanding pregnant belly pulls mom’s weight far forward. Her center of gravity lurches radically outward, tweaking SI stability further.
Standing upright against gravity’s pull grows increasingly difficult. Mom slouches, straining her unbalanced joints with poor posture.
This double whammy of joint LAXITY and MALALIGNMENT during 40 long weeks unleashes severe, accumulating SI joint damage.
But not to fear! Specific physical therapy relieves this sacroiliac joint pain during – and after – pregnancy.
First Line Treatment: Physical Therapy Relief
When sacroiliac joint pain strikes, physical therapy provides safe, lasting relief without medications. Hands-on treatments address both EXCESS joint motion AND poor alignment simultaneously.
Therapists gently guide overly “wiggly” SI joints back into their more snug, neutral position…then “reset” the foundation through expertly aligning your pelvis, hips and low back.
With this solid base of support established, targeted movement and strength training improve stability and mechanics long term.
Throughout care, therapists continually check baby’s positioning to ensure positioning and exercises remain safe as your pregnancy progresses.
Let’s break down the SECRETS physical therapists leverage to alleviate SI joint and back pain during pregnancy month by month…
Manual Therapy: Hands-On Relief
Gentle joint and soft tissue techniques alleviate SI joint dysfunction directly while respecting current relaxation and flexibility of mom’s body. Therapy simultaneously…
- Decreases Joint LAXITY
Therapists gently guide overly loose SI joints back into improved alignment, tensioning those weak links. Improvements hold through targeted stretches and muscle releases.
- Rectifies Malalignment Expert hands-on therapy progressively improves spinal alignment and pelvic balance. With the foundation re-leveled, calm and stability improves.
- Soothes Nerve Irritation Irritated tissues and nerves calm down. Mom finds progressively increasing relief week-to-week.
Sacroiliac Joint Pain Exercises
Specific movement and strength training build on manual therapy gains long-term.
As SI joint stability and mechanics improve, therapists focus on carrying these corrections into daily life. Training focuses on…
- Optimizing Body Mechanics Retraining ideal posture and movement mechanics during daily activities decreases SI joint strain.
- Strengthening Core and Glutes
Building abdominal strength better supports baby’s weight, taking pressure off strained joints. Activation exercises target glute muscles as well to improve stability.
- Sustaining Flexibility
Certain muscles tends to over-tighten during pregnancy, yanking the pelvis/SI joints out of balance again. Carefully guided stretches keep surrounding muscles flexible for ideal alignment.
By discharge, mothers sustain excellent posture and core activation keeping SI joints supported and stable when holding baby. Therapists ensure an excellent foundation for motherhood!
Progress Over Perfect during Pregnancy SI Joint Rehab
Through gradual manual therapy and targeted exercise, comfort and function improve weekly. But recovery is a journey requiring consistency and self-care. Respect your current abilities and gradually progress activity as your body allows.
During setbacks, use ice, relax your movement, and avoid inflammation-provoking activities temporarily. Your therapist will guide you!
The key is sustaining gradual progress vs pushing too aggressively. Perfect form and strength comes later. Right now, focus on decreasing pain while respecting pregnancy-induced joint and ligament changes.
Secrets Behind Lasting Relief: Consistency + Activity Modification Sticking with the customized physical therapy plan ensures steady recovery. If certain postures or movements flare symptoms, avoid aggravating activities and use ice.
Your therapist also provides activity modification guidelines – how to lift, sit, stand and move daily while protecting your SI joints during pregnancy and beyond.
Strengthening exercises and stretches are also continuously updated to match your changing needs over 40 weeks as baby grows.
By 8-12 weeks of therapy…SI joint laxity and stiffness show significant improvement. Sacroiliac joint pain, nerve tension and postural strains decrease with targeted manual and exercise therapy. Consistent home program adherence optimizes and sustains restoration of SI joint mechanics.
Relief Beyond the Due Date: Postpartum SI Joint Care
But sacroiliac joint pain relief doesn’t stop at delivery!
Post-birth, relaxin remains elevated for months. Combine this lingering laxity with delivery’s violent stretching and compression forces – it overworks vulnerable SI joints. If not addressed quickly, severe postpartum SI joint dysfunction develops.
Plus, new muscle imbalances strike from holding/nursing baby one-sided. Generalized weakness from bed rest and pregnancy weight gain strains healing. SI joint pain accumulates without rehab.
By continuing therapy after birth, steady gains carry beyond delivery day. Manual therapy and strategic exercises address brand new post-pregnancy muscle imbalances and total body weakness for a smooth transition standing and moving with baby.
Within 8-12 weeks postpartum, improved core control and glute strength share baby’s weight to take pressure off the SI joints. Stability increases to confidently lift and carry baby while controlling their ever-wiggling bodies.
In addition, targeted hip and SI joint stretches keep surrounding muscles flexible for ideal alignment – preventing additional hiccups. Better yet – no more flares with transitions like standing up, rolling in bed, driving or nursing!
By 3-6 months postpartum, progressive strength and stability effectively “re-tighten” SI joint laxity and realign unbalanced joints. This young mom regains her foundation. No more pain, improved posture – and she confidently attends baby and her daily life. That’s life-changing relief!
Take Charge if You’re in Pain
The aches and changes of pregnancy may seem “normal”, even expected. But enduring eight months of dysfunction, weakness and agony robs an eager mom of truly enjoying her journey. And it hampers her body long term without correction.
If unrelenting back, hip or groins pain plagues you day and night – don’t brush it off! There are answers beyond gritting your teeth until delivery day.
Visit a specialist women’s health physical therapist today to pinpoint sacroiliac joint pain. Then conquer pregnancy-induced SI joint damage through manual therapy and targeted movement – for your best pregnancy and postpartum yet!