Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction: Pain During or Post Pregnancy?
Updated: Jun 29
Did You Know Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction Has Been Reported In Over 30% Of Pregnant Women?! Some Studies Even Suggest Up To 60%!
Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, aka SPD, is a condition typically associated with pregnancy or diagnosed postpartum, in which the patient may experience a cluster of the following symptoms:
Pain in the groin area
Pain at the pubic bones
Low back pain
Lower abdomen pain
Pain in the inner thighs, buttocks, or hips
Pain going up and down stairs
Pain while walking
Pain sitting or standing for a while
Pain when moving her legs apart (or widening her stance)
Pain can vary in intensity but it is often described as “shooting, radiating, stabbing, or aching” (ouch!).
What is the Pubic Symphysis?
The pubic symphysis is a cartilaginous joint between your right and left pubic bones. The joint can become less stable and can even separate resulting in SPD.
Why might cause SPD?
Hormones such as Relaxin increase during pregnancy which may lead to laxity of the ligaments around the symphysis pubis joint and in the pelvis
Muscle weakness in pelvic floor muscles
Biomechanical straining of the ligaments in region
Fetal and pregnancy associated weight gain
Tearing of the fibrocartilagenous disc during delivery
Data even suggests that stress, cortisol, and lack of sleep may act as culprits!
Good News! Pelvic floor PT can help!
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy can help with SPD in the following ways:
Strengthen and Stabilize! Your physical therapist will guide you through exercises to help your muscles function optimally and gain stability. This may include strengthening exercises for those weak muscles in hips, glutes, pelvic floor, and core and lengthening exercises for muscles that may be too tight as they compensate for weak muscles elsewhere
Safety First! Your PT can *safely* guide you into a fitness routine, tweak your old one, and enable you to walk down the street pain free
What to EMBRACE or AVOID! The PT will direct you to avoid certain exercises, postures, and movements which may worsen pain or even the separation such as high impact exercise, twisting, wide stance, heavy lifting, and especially moving your legs apart
Tools and Tips! Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists have loads of suggestions to get you more comfortable! Such as: sleeping with a pillow between your legs, proper body mechanics (how to safely pick up your baby and how to get out of bed), or a pelvic support belt and how to wear it!
Breathe! Your PT will teach you proper breathing habits and Meditation tips to calm your whole system to release overall muscle tension
Hands On! Your PT will perform Manual Soft Tissue work to release tight muscles and teach you and even a friend to perform it on you
It is not normal to be in intense pain during or post pregnancy! I treat a lot of postpartum women who say “I was in excruciating pain when I left the hospital and they told me it was normal”. Trust your body. Repeat after me: Trust MY body, and speak to a pelvic floor PT if you are experiencing these symptoms.
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