Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction In Pregnancy: Treatment & Symptoms
What is symphysis pubis dysfunction?
The two pelvis bones are joined together in the front with ligaments that provide stability to the joint. With the joint in place, a person can move around and stand without any problem. But once the stability of the joint is lost due to the decreased integrity of the ligaments joining the pelvic bones, then it may cause severe dysfunction and discomfort as well. This is known as symphysis pubis dysfunction.
In this condition, either the joint becomes very stiff to allow no movement at all, or it will become too relaxed. Therefore, it will fail to work as a joint and may cause a staggering movement of the pelvis- Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). The discomfort is felt from the front to back in the pelvic region, and it can severely hamper a person’s quality of life.
This condition is also known as ‘Pelvic girdle pain.’
What are the causes of symphysis pubis dysfunction?
SPD is most commonly associated with pregnancy. It is research that at least one woman has to go through SPD out of five pregnant women. This means a good percentage of women suffer from SPD during their pregnancy.
Scientists have not come up with the exact reason as to why this happens. But one theory says that a hormone called relaxin is released during pregnancy to relax the ligaments of the body. This helps in accommodating the growing fetus in the uterus as the muscles relax and make more space for the baby, and also aid a woman during childbirth. This hormone relaxes the ligaments and muscles of the hip, pelvis, pelvic floor, and stomach.
While some women may find this helpful, but in other women, it can more loose and unstable joints. This phenomenon may lead to SPD, while in most, it may not. The reason behind this is the other symptoms that may accentuate the natural phenomenon of muscle relaxation. Such reasons include:
- A history of back pain
- A history of pelvic trauma
- A history of arthritis or other bone diseases
- Being overweight during pregnancy
What are the symptoms of symphysis pubis dysfunction?
Instability of any joint can produce unwanted and uncomfortable symptoms. Same goes with symphysis pubis. When a person is suffering from SPD, the symptoms can be the following:
- Pain in the pelvic region both in the front and the back
- Pain in the anal and vaginal area
- Pain in the sides of the pelvic region
All these symptoms may collectively become more pronounced, and cause you to experience pain when you:
- Change sides during sleep
- Climb the stairs
- Hold weight
- Get dressed
- Stand up from sitting position
- Spread your legs
How to diagnose symphysis pubis dysfunction
If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is advisable to give your doctor a visit and let them know of the things that are troubling you. Your doctor may take a thorough history of your symptoms and may also perform a thorough examination on you. A doctor may also like to further confirm the cause by performing a pelvic X-ray or a pelvic CT scan.
However, these radiological tests are not performed in women who are pregnant. Therefore, your doctor would ask you to get an ultrasound done to detect the cause.
Symphysis pubis dysfunction in pregnancy
A woman might suffer from SPD during her pregnancy if her baby is large enough to cause structural changes to the bony pelvis. It may even cause the two pelvis bones to come apart from the pubis and cause SPD. Likewise, as the pregnancy progresses, the growing fetus would put more pressure on the pelvis, and the symptoms of SPD shall increase with the increase in the size of the fetus.
What is the treatment option for symphysis pubis dysfunction?
The aim of the treatment of SPD is to reduce your pain and other symptoms and restore the function of the pelvis joint. This can be achieved with a couple of measures, and if you religiously follow the treatment plan, you will be able to get cured soon.
A few tested treatment options include:
- Stretching exercises have proven to ease the symptoms of SPD. It is wise to talk to your doctor about stretching exercises and get a physiotherapist to help with the exercises. In addition, your physiotherapist may also advise you of a few positions that may be ideal for having sex or for the delivery of the baby.
- Wearing a pelvic corset that is especially designed to keep the two pelvic bones in close proximity so the bones can rejoin itself. Moreover, a good massage may also help in keeping the bones closer to one another so it can heal.
- Pain medications give you temporary relief. If you are suffering from severe pain or any sort of discomfort, then you may take painkillers to reduce the pain. It is necessary to keep in mind that if you are pregnant, you should only take painkillers that are safe to take during pregnancy.
- Remedies can be of some help in this case. You can enhance your conditions with these remedies, but they will not solely be enough to bring you relief.
o Use an ice pack on your pelvic region
o Do not sit for a very long time
o Do light exercises to initiate healing, but do not do exercises that are painful
o Do exercises to make your muscles of the pelvic floor stronger
o Take the rest you need and avoid overdoing things
What are the complications of symphysis pubis dysfunction?
There are no particular complications of symphysis pubis dysfunction. The definite treatment is only the birth of the fetus. But other than this, there is no harm to the baby or your overall health. Apart from this, the discomfort can be irksome for most women.
What are the preventions for pubic symphysis dysfunction?
SPD is not completely unpreventable, but you can take some measures to reduce your chances of suffering from SPD.
- Try to reduce your body mass index
- Work on the overall health of your bones
Other factors, like back pain and pregnancy, are unmodifiable factors.