What is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction?

symphysis pubis dysfunctionDuring pregnancy, a lot of different things happen to women’s bodies that don’t occur at any other time in their life and that men will never experience. One occurrence is that the pelvic bone alignment tends to become relaxed, and even stretchy, due to a hormone called Relaxin.

A woman’s body releases this hormone so that their ligaments lose rigidity to prepare for childbirth. While this is a completely normal thing to happen to someone that is expecting a child, if it occurs too early on in the pregnancy, the symphysis pubis, or pelvic joint, becomes unstable and causes abnormal sensations and even pelvic pain. This is known as symphysis pubis dysfunction.

This disorder is pretty common in pregnancies and experts have diagnosed symphysis pubis dysfunction (further referred to as SPD) in about one in every 300 pregnancies. More than 2 percent of women are affected by SPD, but it is misdiagnosed often.

Signs and Symptoms of SPD:

It is important for pregnant women to understand the difference between acute pain related to the birth of their child and pregnancy-related discomfort. The  pain that accompanies SPD is localized to the pubic area and can spread into the upper thighs and perineum. Typically the pain is worsened by physical activities such as walking, going up or down stairs, getting dressed, and sometimes even moving in bed.

When SPD occurs, there is the small possibility that the joint could open up and gape apart. This is called diastasis symphysis pubis or symphysis separation. This tends to cause serious pain in the pelvis, groin, hips, and buttocks. In serious cases, SPD can make a vaginal delivery impossible and narrow down delivery options to only a Caesarean section.

While pain from SPD can continue shortly after delivery, a woman’s body eventually stops producing Relaxin and their ligaments  return back to normal.

Treatment Options:

If you have never experienced this type of pain and are reading up on possible issues that could occur during pregnancy then it might be a good idea to seek medical guidance. Your physician can ease your mind and let you know that you and your child will be healthy and fine even if you do end up suffering from SPD. If you are experiencing this kind of pain currently and found this article researching pain relief for SPD then it’s time to find you that relief. Here are some easy ways you can help relieve the pain:

  • Rest

    Avoid doing any weight bearing activities or making any movement that isn’t completely necessary.

  • Do Kegels or Pelvic Tilts

    These do not require any heavy lifting or straining and help strengthen the muscles located around your pelvis and hips.

  • Ask for Pain Relief

    Consult your physician on safe pain relief medications to use during pregnancy that will help to alleviate the symptoms.

  • Try Wearing a Pelvic Support Belt

    You can find several of these belts online. While they tend to look like a corset, they work to move your pelvic bones back in place.

A healthy pregnancy is extremely important for mothers and babies though not always in a mother’s control. If you are pregnant and notice any unusual discomfort, make sure you speak with your physician as soon as possible. Dr. Grossfeld wants all women to have happy and safe pregnancies. If you are experiencing unusual joint pain or symptoms related to symphysis pubis dysfunction, call 502-212-2663 to schedule a visit.