Pubic Symphysis Pain/Dysfunction (also called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction or ‘SPD’) is pain at the front of your pelvis at your pubic bone that can be anywhere from uncomfortable to excruciating. This pain can affect around 1 in 5 pregnant people.
This pain is due to:
- The increasing laxity of the joints of your pelvis
- The increasing size and weight of your growing baby
- Postural changes during pregnancy
The pain is most noticed while doing things such as climbing stairs, rolling over in bed, or shifting weight from one leg to the other.
This pain will likely go away once baby arrives, however there are things you can do in the meantime to help!
Helpful Tips for Common Daily Movements:
With all movements, it is helpful to both tighten your abdominal muscles as if you are hugging your baby with your tummy as well as perform a pelvic floor contraction or ‘kegel’ like you are holding in urine and gas at the same time. Try and exhale through movements as well. Remember, blow before you go!
- While sleeping, sleep with a pillow between your knees for better alignment.
- To get into bed, sit on the edge of the bed, keep knees close together, then lie down on your side, lifting both your legs up sideways.
- To roll over in bed, keep your knees together (some people like to squeeze a pillow between their knees). Exhale, squeeze your knees together, and brace your core as you are moving
- To get out of bed, follow the above instructions to roll over, then keeping knees together swing your legs off the bed as your push yourself up to sitting using your arms.
Getting in/out of a Car
- Sit your butt into the car first. Then, keep your knees together and bring both legs into the car pivoting your body facing forward.
- Some people will put a garbage bag on their car seat to make the surface more slippery!
- Take shorter steps while walking to reduce stress on the pubic symphysis.
- Wear a supportive belt if it is helpful.
- Keep movements of the legs symmetrical when able.
- Avoid very asymmetrical movements such as lunges, side steps, or sitting cross-legged.
- Take rest breaks as needed and move within limits of pain.
Tips for Belt Wearing:
Wearing a supportive or compressive belt can help reduce pain at the pubic symphysis because it helps stabilize the joint.
- Wear the belt low enough that it crosses the pubic symphysis. Find the widest part of your hips (the ‘greater trochanters’) and the belt should sit just above or on top of these bones.
- Sacroiliac joint belts (such as a Serola belt or other sacroiliac specific belt) can be worn backwards to more target the pubic symphysis.
Seeing a Physical Therapist To Help
If you are experiencing pubic symphysis pain, don’t hesitate to find a Physical Therapist to help you. A Physical Therapist (PT) can evaluate your pelvis and show you all the great things you still can do to stay healthy and active during or after your pregnancy!
If you are in the Portland Metro area, give us a call at (503)295-2585 to connect with one of our PTs today! Our clinic is located in Tigard and we are experts at treating pelvic girdle pain. If you are not local, check out our blog on how to find a good PT to find someone to connect within your area!
Management of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction During Pregnancy Using Exercise and Pelvic Support Belts. Phys Ther. Published online December 1, 2005. doi:10.1093/ptj/85.12.1290