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Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction
Obstetrics 

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) in Pregnancy

 

If you are pregnant or have ever been pregnant, you know about those aches and pains that your body experiences as it accommodates that growing bundle of joy inside you. One of the lesser known discomforts is symphysis pubis dysfunction, often referred to as SPD.

 

What is Symphysis Dysfunction?

 

One adjustment your body makes as your baby reaches term is a stretching or elasticity of the pelvis. In the condition known as symphysis pubis dysfunction, the ligaments responsible for keeping the pelvic bone aligned becomes too “stretchy” sooner than they normally should during pregnancy. As a result, the pelvic joint known as the symphysis pubis becomes unstable.

 

Causes

 

Affecting as many as 20% of pregnant women, this condition is often called pelvic girdle pain (PGP). There is really nothing you can do to avoid pelvic girdle pain. In some women, during pregnancy, the pelvic joints become stiff. In others they become less stable. The result is pain and/or instability in ranges varying from a mild, dull ache to severe, debilitating pain.

 

Symptoms

 

Symphysis pelvic dysfunction can result in some rather strange and unpleasant sensations. One of these is pelvic girdle pain (PGP), pain deep in the groin area. You may also have difficulty walking and/or climbing stairs and/or turning over in bed. Some women also experience a pain across the lower back area and/or a clicking sensation when legs are parted or you stand on one leg. The most severe pelvic girdle pain sufferers report the feeling that their pelvis is being torn apart.

 

Weight-bearing activities and climbing stairs are challenging if you are experiencing Symphysis Dysfunction. Pain in pelvis may also be accompanied by discomfort in groin, hips and/or legs—particularly if the pelvis joint gapes.

 

Treatment

 

For most women this condition corrects itself after baby’s arrival.  Many pregnant women modify activities and put up with the pain, knowing it is temporary and that pain meds are potentially bad for baby.

 

However, there are some things women with SPD can do to alleviate the pain and/or the instability associated with SPD.

 

Wearing a pelvic support belt often eases discomfort. These can be purchased at medical supply stores, some maternity wear shops, or online. Basically, the belt acts like a girdle or corset, holding the pelvic bone in line.

 

Regular exercises which incorporate Kegels and pelvic tilts help strengthen pelvic muscles.

Avoid movements which strain the pelvic area. Don’t do heavy lifting. Sit down to bathe, get dressed, and tie your shoes. In short, if a motion strains the pelvis, find another way to do it or avoid that activity.

 

In extreme cases where pain is debilitating, pain meds may be necessary. However, talk to your doctor about this. Don’t use over-the-counter medications.

While there is no cure for SPD, women have reported that in addition to exercise and avoiding triggers to pelvic girdle pain these suggestions are also useful:

Wear flat, supportive shoes.

 

  • Avoid carrying heavy bags and toddlers. Use a trolley or stroller.

 

  • Pace yourself. Don’t venture too far if getting back may become painful.

 

  • Consider ordering purchases online and having a spouse, relative, or friend help with lifting and putting groceries away.

 

The above information doesn’t take the place of a medical consultation so please seek further advice if you have further concerns.

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Greenslopes Obstetrics & Gynaecology is closely aligned with the Greenslopes Private Hospital which opened Brisbane’s newest maternity facility in February 2013.

Pregnancy Checklist
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Congratulations on your pregnancy! If you would like some help thinking through some of the things you need to organise, I've put together a checklist to make sure the important things aren't missed.

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