Causes of Pelvic Girdle Pain Vs. Sciatica in Pregnancy

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There are many reasons for pelvic girdle pain (PGP) to pop up during your pregnancy. Surprisingly, PGP and sciatica have common symptoms, but the causes of pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy are quite different from those that trigger sciatica. During your pregnant months, your body goes through a lot of adjustments–increase of hormones, weight gain, growing belly–that help your body accommodate a  baby and all the responsibilities that comes with that (labor!), but these changes can also take a toll on your joints and bones.  Find out why your chances of experiencing pelvic girdle pain increase when you are pregnant!

Causes of Sciatica During Pregnancy

Sciatica in pregnancy is caused by five main things:

  1. a dropping baby (i.e. when you baby is getting ready for birth it assumes a position closer to your pelvic region, making it easier for your baby to irritate your sciatic nerve)
  2. the position of your baby at other points in your pregnancy
  3. weight of your growing baby putting pressure on your sciatic nerve
  4. the pregnancy hormone, relaxin
  5. a pre-existing condition

Causes of Pelvic Girdle Pain

During your pregnancy (especially when you are nearing your final weeks), your body releases a hormone called relaxin that causes your body’s pelvic muscles and bones to loosen to prepare you for labor.

Because your pelvic region realigns at this time, it makes you more susceptible to pelvic bone damage. Relaxin makes your body stronger and weaker at the same time. So if your pelvic joints

  • move unevenly

you could end up with pelvic girdle pain.

As with sciatica, the (1) weight and (2) position of your body increases the odds that you will encounter pelvic girdle pain. In addition, there are non-pregnancy related factors that predispose you for pelvic girdle pain during your pregnancy:

  • a physically demanding job (if you plan on working well into your pregnancy, you might want to take a look at how your job affects your health before you make any final decisions)
  • pelvic injury or surgery (a recent fall or accident that affected the pelvic region of your body)
  • a history of PGP (especially during a previous pregnancy)
  • a history of any kind of lower back pain (e.g. sciatica)

As you see there are similarities and differences between the causes of pelvic girdle pain and sciatica. Now you know why they are so commonly confused!





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