Pregnant and Unable to Walk!
Updated: Aug 21, 2018
By Mara Towne, PT, DPT
Stephanie was in the last 2 months of her pregnancy when all a the sudden she was unable to walk without excruciating pain. She was in her early 30's and SO FRUSTRATED!
Stephanie had gotten through waking up every morning with nausea from the first trimester and was feeling really good in her second trimester. Now, in her third trimester, she had stabbing pain in the front of her pelvis with every step she took. Does this sound familiar?
The prevalence of pain in pregnancy varies widely depending on the study cited but it is present in anywhere from 20-70% of pregnant women!
The good news is this pain can be eliminated with physical therapy!
Stephanie had what we call Pelvic Girdle Pain or PGP. This is pain in the pelvis during pregnancy which is usually related to instability. When you are pregnant, the ligaments that hold your pelvis together get loose in order to prepare your body for delivery. However, these ligaments need to be tight to help you stabilize your body over your pelvis when you shift your weight side to side while walking. When the ligaments are loose, then you rely on your pelvic muscles more than you did pre-pregnancy. Most people need to be taught how to use these muscles correctly to prevent pain and this was the case for Stephanie.
Stephanie had purchased a sacroiliac (SI) belt but did not know where to wear it on her pelvis for greatest support. She just wanted to be able to walk in the grocery store without pain!
Through physical therapy treatment, she was properly fitted with her SI belt. Additionally, she was educated in how to activate the stabilizing muscles of her pelvis to improve pelvic stability with walking. She was educated in “penguin walking” or taking short steps since the further apart her legs were, the more pain she had. She was issued a Thera band to wear underneath her skirt to help her keep her legs together when out and about. Another tip for Stephanie was to avoid the lunging motion of going up and down the steps in the traditional way by going up and down them sideways facing the handrail instead. She was taught how to get in and out of bed without pain as well. Also, Stephanie was taught ideal exercises to perform, such as squats, which increased strength; but did not split her legs causing more pain as lunges often did.
After one session, Stephanie’s pain had dropped from a 6/10 to 2/10! She was able to perform all of her daily activities like grocery shopping and was able to walk to improve her cardiovascular fitness and overall wellbeing!
In her last session with physical therapy she mentioned that she was nervous about labor and delivery! Was this going to make her PGP worse? Her concerns were completely understandable! We discussed different labor positions to decrease PGP and issued handouts with pictures of these. Discussion of labor and delivery as well as options for positioning greatly decreased her fears. She felt prepared and knew she had an effective resource in her physical therapist!
We’re here to support you on your journey of motherhood in any way possible!
If you would like to learn more about the services we provide for pre-natal, pregnant and postpartum women, please give us a call at 303-740-2026 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to helping you!