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Why do women develop inner thigh pain during pregnancy?

Inner Thigh Pain During Pregnancy
3 minutes, 6 seconds

Pregnancy comes with a lot of unexpected side effects: foot pain, congestion, leakage, etc. But perhaps one of the most confounding side effects is groin pain. 

Why on earth am I feeling inner thigh pain during pregnancy?

We’ll answer that question in this article, and the answer is quite interesting.

Why women feel inner thigh pain during pregnancy

Pregnancy-related thigh pain may stem from a condition called symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), which causes the pelvic joints to stiffen up. This condition occurs when the ligaments that normally hold the two main pelvic bones together start to loosen up, allowing the bones to wiggle and wobble around while you walk. When those two bones don’t sit properly together, they can grind up against one another, generating significant pain.

Symphysis pubis dysfunction is very common, affecting roughly 31% of pregnant women, according to one study.

Why do ligaments loosen when you’re pregnant?

Your ligaments get looser when you're pregnant because your body releases a hormone called relaxin into your body. This hormone is designed to relax your uterus so there’s room for the baby.

It’s an important chemical that prevents premature birth. Unfortunately, too much relaxin in your system can loosen other soft tissue besides the uterus. As a result, the ligaments around your pelvis can start to loosen, leading to inner thigh and groin pain.

Can you have symphysis pubis dysfunction if you’re not pregnant?

Yes, SPD can have causes other than pregnancy. For example, degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis can wear away at the bone, leaving space between the pelvis and surrounding ligaments that allows for wobbling. SPD can also occur without a known cause.

Symptoms of symphysis pubis dysfunction

Inner thigh pain during pregnancy is the primary symptom of SPD. It can get so extreme that you feel pain while walking or even have difficulty standing up (which might happen when you’re pregnant anyway). You may also experience pain in your pubic area or a radiating pain that travels to the front and back parts of your legs.

Some women only experience SPD symptoms when moving, although some experience symptoms even when resting.

How to manage pregnancy-related thigh pain

Here are a few things you can do to manage your symptoms if you’re feeling inner thigh pain while pregnant:

  1. Get plenty of rest — Rest is crucial to recovery for any ailment or injury. If your symptoms keep getting worse, it likely means you’re doing too much activity. Slow down, avoid lifting too much weight, and make sure to sleep. Loose muscles are more susceptible to straining, and pushing yourself could lead to further injury.
  2. Wear a pelvic support belt — Pelvic support belts hold your pelvic bones in place to prevent them from wobbling or grinding against each other. Wearing one can be an effective way to reduce pain symptoms while you’re pregnant. 
  3. Perform pelvic tilts and Kegel exercises — These two exercises can help to strengthen your pelvic muscles, allowing them to better hold your pelvis together. It may take some time for you to see results from these exercises, but they can be effective with practice.
  4. Consult a physical therapist — A physical therapist will assess the severity of your symptoms and determine whether SPD is in fact the cause of your thigh pain. Then, they will build a customized course of treatment to help you manage your symptoms. This treatment plan might include the exercises described above, but they will likely teach you other exercises to further strengthen your pelvis. 

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for pregnancy-related groin pain

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to bring high-quality PT services to the public. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner in your area that can help you address your inner thigh pain during pregnancy.

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Come find the physical therapist who can help treat your pregnancy-related pain.

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