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Pelvic Pain in Pregnancy: What is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) and How Can Pelvic Therapy Help?

So…what is SPD?

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), is a condition that can have a significant impact on pregnant women, causing pain and discomfort in the pelvic region.  SPD is fairly common, occurring in approximately 1 in 300 pregnancies. Individuals who aren’t pregnant can also experience SPD, though it is much less common.  This condition arises when there is excessive movement of the pubic symphysis, the joint that connects the two pelvic bones in the front of the pelvis.

To understand SPD, it helps to understand the anatomy and physiology of the pelvis. The pubic symphysis is a cartilaginous joint that provides stability to the pelvic bones. During pregnancy, hormonal changes, particularly the hormone relaxin, soften the ligaments in preparation for childbirth. This increased laxity, combined with the growing weight of the baby, can lead to misalignment and instability in the pelvic region, resulting in SPD.

What can you do to manage SPD symptoms?

Managing pain associated with SPD involves a holistic approach that combines lifestyle changes, pain management techniques, and, importantly, physical therapy. Here are some strategies that can help moms-to-be cope with SPD-related discomfort:

  • Prenatal Support Belts: These belts provide external support to the pelvic region, helping to stabilize the joint and reduce pain. (One of our favorites is this one)

  • Posture Awareness: Maintaining proper posture is crucial. Simple adjustments like sitting up straight, maintaining a neutral pelvic position, and avoiding long periods of standing or sitting can alleviate stress on the pubic symphysis.

  • Pillow Support: When sleeping, placing a pillow between the legs can help align the pelvis and reduce discomfort.

  • Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected area can provide relief. Warm baths, hot packs, or cold compresses can be effective in temporary pain relief.

How Can Pelvic Therapy Help Pelvic Pain and SPD During Pregnancy?

Physical therapy plays a pivotal role in the management and treatment of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. A trained pelvic therapist, like the skilled physical and occupational therapists at Gaia Women’s Physical Therapy can design a personalized exercise program to strengthen the pelvic muscles, improve stability, and enhance overall mobility. 

Treatment for SPD may include:

  • Pelvic Floor Exercises: Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is crucial in providing support to the pubic symphysis. A physical therapist can guide individuals through targeted exercises to improve muscle tone and function.

  • Joint Stabilization Exercises: Specific exercises focus on stabilizing the pelvic joints, helping to reduce excessive movement and promote better alignment.

  • Manual Therapy Techniques: Hands-on techniques such as joint and soft tissue work which can alleviate pain and improve joint function.

  • Education and Lifestyle Modifications: Your therapist can provide valuable education on proper body mechanics, posture, and activities to avoid. This knowledge empowers individuals to manage their condition proactively.

Get help for your pelvic pain or SPD today!

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction can be a challenging and painful condition, but with the right strategies and guidance, women can find the relief they seek to make their pregnancy more enjoyable and pain free. By combining lifestyle modifications, pain management strategies, and a comprehensive exercise program, your Gaia therapist can help you towards a smoother pregnancy. Reach out to book your first visit with a Gaia Pelvic Therapist today if you are experiencing SPD pain.



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