Why do hips ache during pregnancy?
Are you pregnant and have achy hips? It might just be pelvic girdle pain (PGP). PGP occurs in approximately 45% of all pregnant women. It is a common problem, but not a normal one. Most researchers agree that many different factors contribute to it, and not one can be fully blamed for those achy hips.
Approximately 45 % of all pregnant women experience pelvic girdle pain
Hormonal changes contribute to pelvic girdle pain
The pelvis has a very stiff and stable group of joints. The hormonal changes that come with pregnancy cause a normal relaxation of those joints1. This increased mobility needs to be compensated with muscle support and adaptive movement patterns.
But for around 40-50% of women, however, this adaptation process does not occur in a normal fashion, and the PGP cycle develops. Unhelpful movement patterns increase pain2, and the pain in turn triggers protective strategies (such as pelvic floor muscle clench) and more pain. Eventually this vicious circle leads to less joint control and fear of movement, and explains why those hips ache during pregnancy.
There’s another role of hormones in this cycle that is often overlooked. While the hormone relaxin seems responsible for loosening up pelvic ligaments, sex hormones may alter sensitivity to pain3. Sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone fluctuate during pregnancy and add to the pelvic girdle pain cocktail.
All in all, the increased mobility associated with pregnancy is nothing to be afraid of, and certainly does not make your pelvis unstable. Think of PGP as an unusual response of the body to this sudden (and desired) change in pelvic mobility. If mobility itself was the cause, 100 % of women would experience pelvic pain during pregnancy.
Do you think you have pelvic girdle pain? You will find information on how to manage it throughout the website, but also on Cecile Röst’s book, our free app Rost Moves Mamas and our Youtube channel. If pain is too intense, seek medical care and look for one of our Rost Therapists worldwide.
* If your symptoms are intense seek advice from a medical doctor.
- Aldabe D, Ribeiro DC, Milosavljevic S, Bussey MD. Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain and its relationship with relaxin levels during pregnancy: A systematic review. Eur Spine J. 2012;21(9):1769-1776. doi:10.1007/s00586-012-2162-x
- Aldabe D, Milosavljevic S, Bussey MD. Is pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain associated with altered kinematic, kinetic and motor control of the pelvis? A systematic review. Eur Spine J. 2012;21(9):1777-1787. doi:10.1007/s00586-012-2401-1
- Vincent K, Tracey I. Hormones and Their Interaction with the Pain Experience. Rev Pain. 2008;2(2):20-24. doi:10.1177/204946370800200206