Pelvic Bone Pain: Causes and Natural Treatments

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Pelvic bone pain can be caused by inflammation or injury to the pubic bone, ilium, ischium, or other bones that make up the pelvis. Pubic bone pain or pelvic girdle pain is also very common in pregnant women. Conditions affecting the pelvic bone or pubic bone can result in stiffness, pain, and reduced movement in the pelvic joints. If you have pain in your pubic area because your pelvic bone hurts, you might find walking, sitting, or standing for long periods to be sore and uncomfortable.

There are many home remedies that can help to treat the symptoms of pelvic bone pain. For example, applying hot or cold compresses, physical therapy, or taking some supplements can help get rid of pelvic pain. Pelvic bone pain during pregnancy usually resolves itself after giving birth. However, heating pads can help to speed up the healing process to alleviate a sore pelvis or pubic bone.

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In this article, you will find out how to identify the main causes of pain that can make your pelvic bone hurt. This can help to differentiate between pelvic bone pain and pain caused by organs in your pelvis and lower abdomen. At the end of the article, you will find out how to address pelvic bone pain issues using home remedies.

What is the Pelvic Bone?

The pelvic bone (some refer to this as the pelvic girdle) is made up of a collection of bones that form to make a triangular shape. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the pelvic bone (or, hip bone) is made up of the pubic bone (also called pubis), the ilium, the ischium, sacrum, and coccyx. The pubic bone (pubis) is located at the base of the pelvic girdle and join the 2 hip bones together. The two pelvic bones are joined together at the top by the sacrum at the base of the spine which forms the sacroiliac joint.1

There are also muscles and ligaments attached to the pelvic bones that support the upper body and help to provide balance.

The University of the West of England says that the main function of the pelvic bone is to support the body when walking, running, sitting, and kneeling. The pelvic girdle also protects important organs in the body like the bladder, reproductive organs, and the rectum. Pain can occur when you sit down because most of your body weight rests on the pelvic bone, especially the ischium.2

Pelvic Bone

Differences between male pelvic bone and female pelvic bone

Because the pelvic girdle is important for childbirth, there are some differences between the male and female pelvis.

According to the book, Orthopedic Physical Therapy Secrets, the female pelvic girdle is lighter and thinner than the male pelvis. To assist with childbirth, the female sacrum is also shorter and wider than the male sacrum. The pelvic girdle also forms part of the birth canal in women.3

Because of the differences between male and female pelvic bone, pelvic girdle pain (PGP) is very common during pregnancy.

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Symptoms of Pelvic Bone Pain

Pelvic bone pain can affect men and women of all ages; however, women suffer more from pain in the pelvic bones.

According to doctors on WebMD, the most common symptom of pain in the pelvic bone is shooting pains in the pelvic region. Depending on the cause of the bone or joint pain, you may suffer from stiffness in one or the other hip.4

Some of the other symptoms of pelvic pain can include:

  • Lumbar pain (low back pain) that intensifies when bending over
  • Pain and stiffness in the hip or back when standing or sitting for a long time
  • Soreness in pelvic bones or hips when walking or climbing stairs
  • Hip pain or lumbar pain when turning over in bed

Doctors say that pelvic bone pain during pregnancy can cause all of the above symptoms, as well as some of the following:

Causes of Pelvic Bone Pain

Pain that affects the pelvic bone is sometimes called pelvic girdle pain (PGP) or symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). Let’s look in more detail at some of the reasons why your pelvic bone hurts.

Pelvic fracture

Injury to any of the bones in your pelvic area – your pubis, sacrum, ischium, or ilium – can result in pain and a bruised pelvic bone.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons report that the main causes of fracturing your pelvic bones are falling or being in an accident. In extreme cases like a car collision, the fracture may be so severe that surgery is required to restore the pelvic bone.5

Because the pelvic bone is ringed shaped, a fracture in one part of the pelvis usually results in a secondary fracture. For example, fracturing the top of the hip bone at the sacroiliac joint can result in a break in the pubic bone. Older people are also prone to a pelvic fracture because of osteoporosis.5

Depending on the extent of injury to the pelvic bone, you may have some of the following symptoms:

  • Sharp pain in your pelvic area
  • Pelvic pain when walking or moving your hip
  • Swelling or bruising in the pelvis around the hip bone

Osteitis pubis

Osteitis pubis is one reason for pubic bone pain that affects men and women. Osteitis pubis is inflammation of the pubis in the lower pelvic area that is caused by repeated trauma. This inflammatory condition of the pelvic bones can radiate pain to the groin or lower abdomen.

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Dr. Henry T. Goitz from the Detroit Medical Center Sports Medicine Institute reports that osteitis pubis often affects athletes. The inflammation in the pubis happens because of micro-traumas to the muscles in the pelvic area or damage to the joints. This condition is common in football, soccer, ice hockey, and tennis players.6

Other symptoms of pelvic bone pain that are a result of osteitis pubis can include:

  • Pain that radiates out from the pubic bone
  • Lower abdominal pain on one side of the pubic area
  • Pelvic pain when sneezing, walking, or running
  • Hearing a popping or clicking sound when walking on uneven ground or turning over in bed
  • Pain in the sacroiliac joints

Sprained sacroiliac joint

A sprained sacroiliac joint can be a reason why you have pelvic bone pain and are not pregnant, although pregnancy can cause sacroiliac joint pain.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that inflammation in the joints between the sacrum and pelvic bone can be a result of arthritis, falling, or wear and tear. Pain in the lower back and buttocks is the most common symptom of sacroiliac joint pain.7

According to the Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, pelvic girdle dysfunction (PGD) can cause chronic sacroiliac joint pain. Because of the nature of the pelvic pain, PGD can be difficult to diagnose and can occur spontaneously.8

Doctors say that physical therapy, spinal manipulation, and support belts can help to relieve some symptoms of pelvic bone pain.

Pelvic girdle pain (PGP)

Pelvic girdle pain describes pain in the pubic bone or other pelvic bones that can result in varying degrees of discomfort and back or hip pain.

Very often, the stresses and strains of modern-day living can be a simple reason why you experience pelvic girdle pain. The National Health Service reports that PGP can be a result of bad posture or pelvic muscle imbalance. For example, sitting in a slouched position with a curved back can put extra pressure on your pelvic area.9

According to the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, chronic pelvic pain can be associated with poor posture. This causes pressure on the joints and nerves in the pelvic region. Doctors observed that improving posture when sitting or standing helped to relieve pelvic girdle pain.10

The Iowa Orthopedic Journal reported that a muscle imbalance can result in pelvic girdle pain at the back. For example, abnormal muscle length in the buttocks can result in tension in some hip muscles that result in pain. Sometimes, overuse, injury, or weight gain can exacerbate PGP and cause increased muscle strain.11

There are many exercises that can help strengthen your lower back to improve your posture. You can also try squats, leg circle exercises, and lunges to strengthen your glutes and prevent muscle imbalance in your buttocks.

Other causes of pubic bone pain and pain in other pelvic bones

There are some other reasons why you may have pubic bone pain or pain in other bones of your pelvis that interferes with your daily activities.

Arthritis. Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that results in chronic pelvic bone pain. Arthritis that causes pain and joint inflammation is a common disease in many people. However, according to Jennifer Robinson on WebMD, ankylosing spondylitis only affects less than 0.5% of the general population.12

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Cancer. In rare occasions, pelvic bone pain can be caused by chondrosarcoma or Ewing Sarcoma – types of bone cancers that can affect the pelvic bones. The most common symptom is constant pain near the bone. However, it’s important to remember that the most common causes of pelvic bone pain are due to inflammation or dysfunction of a benign (non-cancerous) nature.12

Pelvic Bone Pain During Pregnancy / Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) and SPD

Pregnant women often complain of pain in their pubic bone because of changes that take place in the pelvic area. Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) is very common during pregnancy and can cause a lot of discomfort and pain when walking, standing, or bending over.

According to some reports, pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PPGP) can affect up to 75% of all pregnant women. Doctors have found that there are a number of reasons why pelvic girdle pain especially affect women during pregnancy. Pelvic pain in pregnancy can feel like pain and stiffness in the hips and buttocks as well as sharp pains between your vagina and anus.

For example, the journal BMC Medicine, reports that increased levels of the hormone relaxin cause the pelvic girdle to widen. This is one of the reasons for pelvic bone pain during the third trimester. Also, strenuous work, lifting heavy items, or a history of lower back pain can put pregnant women at greater risk of pelvic bone pain in early pregnancy. Reports indicate that postpartum pelvic bone pain is also common.13

How to cope with pelvic bone pain during pregnancy

For some women, a pelvic support belt can help alleviate much of the discomfort that pubic symphysis pain in pregnancy causes.

To help cope with pelvic bone pain during pregnancy, doctors from the National Health Service recommend the following:14

  • Sit down when getting dressed, as standing on one leg can aggravate PGP in pregnancy.
  • Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs.
  • Keep your knees together as much as possible. For example, swivel both legs together when getting out a car, or keep your knees together when turning in bed.
  • Climb stairs one at a time.
  • Don’t cross your legs when sitting or standing.
  • Avoid lifting heavy weights.
  • Don’t carry bags in one hand but try using a backpack.

How to Treat Pelvic Bone or Pubic Bone Pain

According to the Cochrane Library, there are many natural ways to treat pelvic bone pain without the use of strong medication or painkillers. Some of the things you can do for pelvic bone pain include:15

  • Strengthening exercises
  • Massage
  • Heat therapy
  • Support belts
  • Education on proper posture

Many of these natural therapy interventions are also useful in treating pelvic girdle pain after giving birth.

Cold or heat therapy

Applying heating pads or cold compresses to the painful area in your pelvic region can help to get rid of the pain naturally.

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According to Dr. Nayana Ambardekar on WebMD, heat therapy can help arthritis-type pain in joints by increasing blood circulation and loosening tense muscles. Cold packs are good for treating deep pain and can be effective in the first few days when pain flares up in the pelvic bones. You may need to experiment with either cold packs or heating pads to find out which works best for your pain in the pelvic area.16

How to make your own cold pack or heating pad:

By using a rice-filled sock, you can make a cold pack or heating pad to treat pubic bone pain. This is what you should do:

  • Fill a sock with rice, leaving a few inches clear at the top. Tie securely.
  • For a cold pack, place the rice sock in a freezer for 2-3 hours. Remove, wrap in a cold, damp, towel, and place on the painful pelvic area for up to 15 minutes at a time.
  • For a heating pad, put the rice sock in a microwave and heat for 1 minute to 1.5 minutes. Remove, making sure the sock isn’t too hot. Wrap in a damp, warm towel and place on your sore pelvis for 15 minutes at a time. Re-heat as necessary.

Massage

Massaging the affected area in your pelvis can help to relax the muscles and decrease pain. The journal BMC Complementary Alternative Medicine reports that certain massage techniques can help relieve musculoskeletal pain.17

One way to improve the effectiveness of massage for pain relief is to use essential oils in the massage oil blend.

Essential oils for pelvic bone pain relief

Many essential oils have pain-relieving properties that can penetrate the skin and relieve pain in the pelvic area.

For example, a study published in 2015 into the medicinal properties of lavender oil found that it can help to reduce inflammation. The study found that lavender oil has an anti-inflammatory effect when applied to the skin and also helps to relieve pain. Lavender oil was described as an essential oil with important therapeutic potential.18

For more information on the best essential oils to use for pelvic bone pain and how to apply them, please read my article on the top 20 essential oils for pain and inflammation.

Physical therapy

If you suffer from chronic pelvic bone pain or the pain in your pubic bone still continues after childbirth, you may need to see a physical therapist.

Many doctors recommend physical therapy or manipulation to relieve symptoms of pelvic bone pain. Some physical therapists recommend exercise programs to strengthen muscles and ligaments in the pelvic area. Or, exercise therapy using aerobic or muscle strengthening exercises could help to support the pelvic bone better and reduce pubic pain.15

Natural supplements

If you frequently have pain above the pelvic bone and lower back pain, you could try taking some natural supplements that reduce inflammation and pain.

For example, the journal Drug Design, Development and Therapy reported in 2016 on the benefits of taking turmeric extract (curcumin) for inflammatory diseases. Researchers found that curcumin in turmeric is an anti-inflammatory compound that can help reduce the symptoms of joint pain in arthritis. Arthritis sufferers who regularly took curcumin supplements found that their pain decreased and range of joint movement increased.19

If you want to increase consumption of turmeric, make sure to read my articles on how to increase turmeric absorption and how cooking and heat affect turmeric.

When to See a Doctor

In many cases, pelvic girdle pain is eased by the natural home remedies mentioned in this article. However, if your pain continues and interferes with your daily activities, you should see a doctor.

Dr. Tyler Wheeler on WebMD says that a thorough examination and possibly scans may reveal the reason why your pelvic bone pain doesn’t go away. Your doctor may refer you to a chiropractor or recommend another course of treatment.20

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. Britannica. Pelvic girdle.
  2. LearnTechUWE. Pelvic anatomy.
  3. ScienceDirect. Pelvis.
  4. WebMD. Pelvic girdle pain.
  5. OrthoInfo. Pelvic fractures.
  6. Medscape. Osteitis pubis.
  7. MayoClinic. Sacroiliitis.
  8. J Man Manip Ther. 2015 Feb; 23(1): 20–26.
  9. NHS. Pelvic girdle
  10. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2009; 10: 82.
  11. Iowa Orthop J. 2003; 23: 57–60.
  12. CancerGov. Bone cancer.
  13. BMC Med. 2011; 9: 15.
  14. NHS. Pelvic pain in pregnancy.
  15. CochraneLibrary. Physical therapy interventions for PGP after pregnancy.
  16. WebMD. Heat and cold therapy for arthritis pain.
  17. BMC Complement Altern Med.2006 Jun 23;6:24.
  18. An Acad Bras Cienc.2015 Aug;87(2 Suppl):1397-408.
  19. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2016; 10: 3029–3042.
  20. WebMD. Is your SI joint giving you
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