Surely there isn’t another area of pain during pregnancy?
Yep, sorry there sometimes can be! Your hips can be another area (along with your lower back) that can cause you grief throughout your pregnancy.
Some women experience symptoms early on, while others may experience it towards the end of their pregnancy and some are lucky enough to not have any trouble at all!
What is lateral hip pain
Lateral hip pain refers to pain on the side of your hip.
It is often referred to in the Physio world as Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome (GTPS).
It can involve the gluteal tendons (tendons join muscle to bone) and the bursae (fluid filled sacs that help reduce friction).
Sometimes it can be as a result of inflammation in the bursa, and other times it can be related to changes in the tendon.
Common causes of lateral hip pain
The most common cause of hip pain during pregnancy is from prolonged pressure to the hip area, which can occur from laying on your side.
Other causes include but are not limited to;
- Hip and pelvis instability (which can occur due to hormonal changes and your ligaments loosening to prepare you for childbirth)
- Commencing vigorous exercise
- Repetitive movement that your body is not accustomed to (e.g. increasing walking, running, gym too quickly)
- Direct trauma such as a fall onto your side
As women, we are more prone to lateral hip pain (GTPS) due to the structure of our hips and pelvis.
We tend to have broader hips and a narrower stance, which puts extra stress on the tendons and bursae.
What can I do to reduce the pain?
Seeing your physiotherapist who can assess the problem and provide hands-on treatment and advice can help reduce pain.
There are lots of things you can also try yourself to manage and reduce your symptoms.
8 Tips to reduce lateral hip pain at home
Here are some our favourite tips to help reduce the pain and minimise common positions that can aggravate the problem:
Avoid crossing your legs or even your ankles when sitting – this can put more pressure on the tendons around your hip and aggravate your pain.
When getting into your car, try putting your bottom in first, then keep your feet and knees together as you bring your legs into the car.
When getting out of the car, swing both of your legs out first (the reverse of what you did when getting in) and then stand up.
If work requires you to sit for long hours, try setting an alarm or timer to get up every hour (go grab a drink, walk a lap around the office or go to the loo)
Sleeping on your side is always going to be a difficult one. Try taking more of the pressure through the front of your thigh when laying on your side (bring your body weight forward more by wedging a pillow behind your back, or try a thick piece of foam on top of your mattress to make it a bit softer.
When you are sitting at work, have a quick check of your sitting position. Keeping your hips slightly higher compared to your knees will help with both hip and lower back pain (as seen in the picture below).
Using heat (wheat bag, heat pack, hot water bottle) – you can use this day or night! (Never put heat on your tummy when pregnant)
Try rolling on a spikey ball or tennis ball to massage through the muscles in your bottom for 5 minutes a day.
All the above tips are great to try and incorporate in your day to day life.
We know some of them may be harder than others and some habits are tricky to break, but stick at it!
What will help in the longer term / How to prevent lateral hip pain in pregnancy
Strength exercises that are targeted at the muscles in your hips, pelvis and buttock are a great way to help prevent lateral hip pain and if you unfortunately have symptoms already, to manage your pain.
You wont necessarily see results immediately, but consistency is the key!
Speak to your maternal health physio for specific exercises suitable for you.