Abdominal or pelvic pain when walking can be a symptom of several conditions, including inguinal hernias and musculoskeletal issues.
Pelvic pain is pain that occurs in the lower part of your torso, between your belly button and your thighs.
Pain in this region may be due to conditions that affect your musculoskeletal, digestive, or reproductive systems.
Many people experience some type of pelvic pain during their lifetime. Sometimes you’ll notice that this pain occurs or worsens when you walk or move around.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what can cause pelvic pain when you’re walking, as well as how these conditions can be treated and prevented.
In most cases, the cause of pelvic pain when you walk is related to your musculoskeletal system, which includes your:
In some cases, though, the pain can also be associated with other organs and tissues in your pelvis.
Let’s look at nine of the most common causes of pelvic pain that can happen or worsen when you’re walking or moving around.
1. Sacroiliac joint pain
Your sacroiliac (SI) joint is the joint in your backside that connects the lower part of your spine to the bones of your pelvis.
Sometimes, this joint can become irritated and inflamed, leading to pain. This pain can become worse when you:
- walk or run
- walk up the stairs
- stand up for a long time
- place more weight onto one leg than the other
SI joint pain is most often caused by:
2. Pubic symphysis dysfunction
The pubic symphysis joint is located in the front of your pelvis. It helps hold the bones of your pelvis together and stabilizes them during activity.
If this joint becomes too relaxed, it can lead to pain. This type of pelvic pain is common in pregnant women. It’s also referred to as pelvic girdle pain.
In addition to pregnancy, pubic symphysis dysfunction can also be caused by:
If you have pubic symphysis dysfunction, you may feel a sharp or burning pain, and it may radiate down your legs. You may also hear a clicking noise when you move.
Pain can get worse when you walk and when you:
- get up from a sitting position
- go up or down stairs
- place more weight on one leg than the other
- move your legs apart
- turn over in bed
3. Osteitis pubis
Like pubic symphysis dysfunction, osteitis pubis also affects the area of the pubic symphysis and surrounding tissues. It can lead to pelvic soreness or pain that can get worse with physical activity.
Osteitis pubis is an overuse injury. It’s common in some athletes, particularly those who play sports involving kicking, pivoting, and twisting. Examples of such sports include:
- ice hockey
4. Pelvic floor muscle pain
Your pelvic floor muscles are the muscles that surround and support the organs and tissues in your pelvis.
Sometimes pelvic pain may be caused by tension in these muscles. This type of pain is
Pain may be localized to the pelvis but may also involve the lower back or legs.
While this type of pain can occur while resting, it can sometimes be aggravated by activities, such as:
- walking for a long time
- standing for a long time
- going to the bathroom
- having sex
There are a variety of things that can contribute to pelvic floor pain development, including:
- an accident or injury
- a previous pelvic procedure or surgery
- repetitive motions or use
- vitamin deficiencies
5. Inguinal hernia
The typical symptoms of an inguinal hernia include a noticeable bulge in the pelvis or groin as well as discomfort or pain.
People with an inguinal hernia may experience an increase in pain or discomfort when:
- performing strenuous activities
- standing for a long period of time
- lifting heavy objects
Inguinal hernias can sometimes be due to conditions that affect the connective tissue in your pelvis. These conditions may or may not be present at birth.
While genetics may play a role, inguinal hernias can also be related to activities that require prolonged periods of standing, walking, or lifting.
Appendicitis is when your appendix becomes inflamed. It’s often not known what causes this inflammation. Medical experts believe it may happen when the entrance to your appendix becomes blocked.
Appendicitis is a potentially serious condition. If you don’t get prompt medical attention, your inflamed appendix may burst. This can lead to a serious bacterial infection in your abdominal cavity.
People with appendicitis feel severe pain in the right side of their pelvis, along with symptoms like:
The pain can get worse when you:
- touch the affected area
In severe cases, it can cause a perforation, or tear, of the large intestine. This can lead to a serious bacterial infection in your abdominal cavity.
Sometimes this pain can become more severe when you perform jarring movements, which can include walking.
Other symptoms of diverticulitis include:
8. Pelvic congestion syndrome
Pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS) is a condition caused by dilated veins in the pelvic area. What exactly causes the condition is still not well understood.
Pelvic pain due to PCS is generally dull or achy. However, the pain can become sharper or more intense from long periods of standing or walking.
9. Bone cancer
One of the symptoms of bone cancer is pain, especially when using the area of your body that’s affected by the cancer.
For example, if you have cancer in your pelvis, you may feel pain when walking, standing for a long time, or using the stairs.
There are other potential symptoms of bone cancer, such as:
If your pelvic pain is mild and isn’t accompanied by any concerning symptoms, there are ways to help ease your pain at home:
- Rest. While you often can’t avoid walking completely, try to limit activities that may further aggravate your pain. Try to avoid standing for long periods of time, going up stairs, or running.
- Pay attention to your posture. Good posture can ease pelvic pain caused by musculoskeletal issues.
- Apply ice and heat. Alternating between a cool compress and a heating pad may help relieve some types of pelvic pain.
- Try over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications. These medications can help ease pain and swelling. Some examples include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin.
If you’re experiencing severe pelvic pain, it’s important to seek medical attention.
Make an appointment with your doctor if you develop any type of pelvic pain that:
- is persistent or recurring
- doesn’t get better or worsens with at-home care
- begins to significantly interfere with your daily activities
Seek immediate medical attention for pelvic pain that:
- comes on suddenly
- is severe
- is accompanied by symptoms like fever, nausea, or vomiting
Doctors typically use a variety of methods to help diagnose the cause of pelvic pain. These can include:
- Laboratory tests. These tests can include various blood tests and a urinalysis to help detect an underlying condition or an infection.
- Imaging. Imaging technology can help your doctor to better visualize the structures of your pelvis. Techniques like ultrasound, plain film X-ray, CT, or MRI may be used.
- Pelvic exam. For women with pelvic pain, a pelvic exam may be performed. This helps your doctor to examine certain organs of your pelvis as well as the muscles of your pelvic floor.
The treatment that your doctor prescribes for your pelvic pain will depend on what’s causing it. Some examples of potential treatments of pelvic pain while walking include:
- Medications. These are often used to relieve pain and inflammation. Some examples include prescription pain relievers and muscle relaxants. Antibiotics may also be used for a bacterial infection.
- Injected corticosteroids. In cases of joint pain, your doctor may use an injectable corticosteroid to help ease inflammation.
- TENS. TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. With TENS, your doctor places electrodes onto your skin to deliver electrical impulses to the affected area. In some cases, this can help relieve pain.
- Physical therapy. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you maintain or regain strength, flexibility, or range of motion in the affected area.
- Surgery. In cases where the cause of your pelvic pain is severe or doesn’t respond to more conservative treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery to help relieve your symptoms.
Not all causes of pelvic pain while walking can be prevented, but there are steps you can take to lower your risk. Some preventive steps include the following:
- Stay physically active. Exercising regularly can help keep your muscles and joints healthy, flexible, and in good shape.
- Warm up. Stretching and warming up before physical activity may help prevent injuries that can lead to pelvic pain.
- Avoid overuse. Try to limit activities that require walking or standing for long periods without rest. Also, try to limit repetitive motions like kicking, twisting, or pivoting.
- Add more fiber. If you’ve had diverticulitis before, adding more fiber to your diet may help prevent painful flare-ups.
- See your doctor regularly. Chronic conditions like arthritis can cause some types of pelvic pain. Regular checkups may help ensure that these types of conditions are detected and treated early before they cause more serious problems.
There are several types of health conditions that can cause pelvic pain when you walk.
In many cases, the cause of this type pain is related to your musculoskeletal system. This includes your bones, muscles, joints, and tendons.
In other cases, the pain can also be associated with organs and tissues in your pelvis.
Mild to moderate pelvic pain can often be treated at home with rest, cool and warm compresses, and OTC anti-inflammatory medications.
However, it’s important to see your doctor if your pain worsens, persists, or interferes with daily activities.
The specific treatment of pelvic pain while walking depends on the cause. Initial treatment is often conservative, involving medications or physical therapy. Your doctor may recommend surgery in more severe cases.