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Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction During Pregnancy

December 03, 2018 4 min read

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction During Pregnancy

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction During Pregnancy

There are different types of aches and pains that women experience during pregnancy, and often they are just put down as unfortunate side-effects. What many women don’t realise is that some of their ailments are diagnosable and even easily managed. You need to listen to your body and figure out where the discomfort is coming from, and when it occurs most. Your body will be overwhelmed with new hormones and each little body part has a new role to play, all these adjustments can cause a fair amount of havoc on your new mum-body.

One of the conditions that often isn’t diagnosed correctly is Symphysis Pubis Disfunction (SPD). SPD is a pain in the symphysis pubis region, the secondary cartilaginous joint between the left and right pubic bones, in the front of the bladder. It is caused by the bones in the front of the pelvis becoming unstable, which then causes them to move. As a result, bone and nerve pain occurs. This can be a shooting or stabbing pain in the front of the bladder which can radiate towards the back, the hips, or even downwards. The pain is worsened during the day when moving about, especially during strenuous activity.

Many women, more than 3 out of 10, experience SPD during pregnancy. The pain can be quite spread, so initial diagnosis can be difficult, but common symptoms can include:

  • Sharp, intense pain in the front of the pubic area
  • A waddling walking gait
  • Stabbing, burning pain felt in the hip bones, in the lower back, the perineum and down the backs of the legs
  • Pain extended down to the knees, down towards ankles and even into feet
  • Pain when lifting one leg in front of the other (climbing stairs or walking)
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • A grating or grinding noise during movement in the pubic bone region

SPD comes about usually when there is rapid weight gain. This is then aggravated during pregnancy. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy, carrying multiples or a large baby, gestational diabetes, repeated sharp exercise, strenuous activity, poor posture and previous trauma are all factors that can increase the chance of SPD occurring during pregnancy. Having an existing condition of SPD before pregnancy can also cause the symptoms to worsen throughout pregnancy, as more weight is gained.

Luckily, it is a treatable condition once properly diagnosed, and through non-invasive and simple exercise, the symptoms can be relieved and properly managed. SPD is a controllable dysfunction that does get better with the right treatment.  Engaging in the right therapy plans and effective, safe pain relief can alleviate most of the pain in a short period of time.

Pelvic support belt –Non-rigid pelvic support girdles or corsets can really provide great relief. The belts support the pelvic bones and help put them back into the correct alignment. They are usually worn during the day, but may need to be worn during the night if the condition is severe enough.

Exercise –There are exercises that focus on strengthening and training the muscles of the pelvic floor. These exercises go a long way in soothing tight muscles and preventing further pain. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles through exercise also helps with an easier, less painful labour.

Hot and cold therapy –The perineum strip from BodyICE Woman can be used to effectively treat SPD, both with hot and cold therapy. The heated or cooled strip soothes the aches and relaxes the muscles. The strip can also be used in the second stage of labour, to prevent any perineal trauma.

Sleeping on your side –Side sleeping when the abdomen and upper leg are supported by pillows can help alleviate pain. Maternity pillows, which are full length body pillows, are a must for any mums battling to find comfort at night.

Visit a specialist –Often sessions with a chiropractor, physiotherapist or osteopath can help relieve the pain and discomfort. Stick to recognized specialist with treatments that are safe during pregnancy. Regular visits will help keep the pain in check and they will be able to provide you with safe exercises to practice to both strengthen and soothe muscles.

After childbirth, SPD usually fades away. The hormone relaxin which is produced during pregnancy to loosen the pelvic muscles in preparation for childbirth is not produced anymore, so the muscles in the pelvic girdle usually fit back into place. If the pain doesn’t disappear, exercise and visits to a specialist can continue to help manage the symptoms.

There are many pains that come with pregnancy. As wonderful as it is growing your own little life inside of you, the discomforts can sometimes be overwhelming. Recognising the pain and getting a good diagnosis, such as that for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, and finding a treatment, can really help you focus on enjoying your pregnancy and looking forward to meeting your very special baby.

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