Home Pain in PGP Non-pharmacological methods
Non-pharmacological methods PDF  | Print |  E-mail

The treatment of chronic pain often requires considerable input from a number of health professionals and the person themselves. Other treatments often include psychological treatments to improve coping strategies and rehabilitation. This treatment is often best arranged through specialised pain services such as pain clinics and pain management programmes. Drug treatment is only one part of the treatment of chronic pain.

Manual therapies such as physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic treat the underlying mechanical joint problem with the aim of relieving pain and preventing deterioration.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. You may find other alternatives, but be clear about any risks, benefits and side effects.


> Physiotherapy

Assessment of joint position and mobility, and realignment of any asymmetries (combined with stability exercises and advice) can help to maintain joint alignment and stability and relieve pain.

> Chiropractic

Joint realignment and gentle manipulation to relieve pain and improve joint position.

> Osteopathy

Joint realignment and manipulation to relieve pain and improve joint position.
Manual therapies often work well in conjunction with other forms of pain relief.

> TENS pain relief

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a drug-free method of pain relief that has proved very popular in the treatment of many persistent conditions including PGP.

TENS: How does it work?
Adhesive electrode pads are placed around the area of pain and these are connected to a battery-powered unit that is small enough to be attached to a belt. Mild electrical impulses are then transmitted to stimulate the nerves in the affected area. This is usually felt as a slight tingling sensation, and it leads to the body’s releasing natural painkillers called endorphins and reducing the pain messages reaching the brain. TENS can be used in conjunction with drug treatment.

Although TENS machines are often used in labour, they are not usually used during pregnancy as the effects are unresearched. The current situation is that there is insufficient evidence to prove that it is safe to use in pregnancy (although conversely there is no evidence to prove that it is not), so is not currently recommended by physiotherapists. However, it is still used in some situations (e.g. through pain clinics) and you may wish to discuss the pros/cons of using it with the health professional treating you, in order to make an informed choice in your own individual case.
Pain clinics often have more experience of using TENS in pregnancy and some continue to offer it as pain relief during pregnancy. Your GP or pain clinic may be able to loan you a TENS machine in the short term, but you will probably have to purchase one for long-term use.

> Acupuncture

The above also applies to acupuncture during pregnancy. Postnatally, it is commonly used as an adjunct to manual therapy and can be very useful, especially as a short-term measure, whilst allowing other treatments to become effective.

> Counselling

Talking to a professional counsellor or psychologist can help to reduce fear and anger, possibly helping to reduce the risk of depression and relationship difficulties during such a stressful time. Having counselling or psychotherapy does not mean that your pain is not real or is ‘all in the mind’. A counsellor/psychologist can help you to explore ways of managing and coping with your pain, which can lead to a greater sense of control and wellbeing. Your doctor may refer you, or details can be found in the phone book.

> Meditation/massage

Using techniques that relax muscles and calm tension in a person can ease pain.

> Occupational therapy

The provision of practical aids, and discussion about strategies to regain or maintain independence and physical ability.


Homeopathy is tailored to your particular set of symptoms. A homeopath will find a suitable homeopathic remedy for you and your pain. There may well also be help available for labour and birth, as well as afterwards with breast feeding, sleeplessness, etc.

> Alternative/complementary therapies

Complementary therapies are used to help with a variety of health conditions and women with PGP may find these therapies useful to help manage acute or chronic pain. However, most pain in PGP is as a result of a mechanical joint problem such as stiffness in one side of your pelvis, so it can't move normally. It is unlikely to get better just by using temporary pain-relieving techniques. Complementary therapies alone may not address the cause of pain although they may temporarily relieve it. If you have to choose between spending money on manual therapy and complementary therapy, we suggest that you are likely to get more long-lasting relief from manual therapy; if you can afford both, that is a bonus.

> Aromatherapy

The use of scented oils can be relaxing and help with symptom relief.

> Reflexology

Trigger points, usually on the feet, are stimulated to relieve pain.

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