What is SPD?
SPD or symphysis pubis dysfunction, also known as pelvic girdle pain (PGP), is a type of pain usually associated with pregnancy, where a pregnant mother can feel pain in her lower abdomen or pelvic girdle. This pain is usually in the cartilage joint in the center of the pelvis that is the connection between the right and left pelvic bones. This pain can radiate to the lower abdomen, back, groin, perineum, thigh, and/or legs. The pain can sometimes be described as shooting, stabbing, radiating, burning, clicking, or snapping. Often, SPD is worse on movement, particularly walking, going up stairs, or any action that involves bending down, or lifting one leg at a time such as getting in and out of a car or turning over in bed. The pain is often relieved by rest. In some cases patients can experience other symptoms such as grinding in their pelvis, fatigue or difficulty urinating.
What causes symphysis pubis dysfunction?
There are several causes of SPD, one of the most common is hormonal changes that occur as pregnancy progresses. During pregnancy, several hormonal changes occur to help prepare the body for birth. One hormone, called relaxin, increases greatly as pregnancy progresses. Relaxin as a hormone works to relax the muscles and ligaments of the body in order to allow for mom’s body to expand to accommodate the growing baby without tearing anything. That hormone does not just work around baby in the pelvic joints, it affects every muscle and ligament in the body, causing them to become a bit more relaxed and loose. This laxity in the ligaments can affect the pubic connections and pelvic floor as well and contribute to muscle weakness and strain on the pelvis and pubic symphysis, leading to pain, sometimes radiating pain down through the pubic symphysis to the entire pelvis.
Other causes of symphysis pubis joint pain can be anatomical pelvic variations and biomechanical strain on the pelvis during pregnancy. Furthermore, a previous history of pelvic or back pain or injury can predispose a pregnant woman for SPD and other pelvic pain.
Pelvic pain during pregnancy is very common, and up to a third of pregnant women report experiencing pelvic pain and pubic pain during their pregnancy. SPD can occur at any time during pregnancy, but more common in the third trimester than it is in early pregnancy.
Treatment for SPD
There are several different treatments for SPD, ranging from more conservative to more invasive, with varying degrees of success. Some common conservative managements include pelvic support belts. These belts provide good external support but most doctors agree that without accompanying muscle strengthening exercises, a pelvic support belt is not helpful. Therefore the belts are usually accompanied by physical therapy, or a pregnant mother is prescribed physical therapy alone. Training of the pelvic muscles and the core can help with pain relief as the muscles being strengthened will help support the pelvic bone.
Some healthcare providers will recommend mobility assistance such as a walking frame or a wheelchair when the mom is dealing with severe pelvic girdle pain. In less severe cases, simple analgesics can be recommended, as well as other palliative care measures such as ice, heat, massage, or acupuncture.
However, one of the most beneficial and effective treatments for symphysis pubis dysfunction is chiropractic care.
How Can Chiropractic Treatment Help?
Chiropractic treatment has been showed through research to be greatly effective in helping reduce pregnancy related pain. Chiropractic care is a safe, gentle, and effective drug-free alternative to treating pain and discomfort during pregnancy.
Chiropractic adjustments work to provide better alignment of the spine, pelvis, and hips, and in bettering the alignment, improve the communication of the nervous system. The nervous system, talking to the muscles and ligaments that are under strain, can help improve mobility and function to those muscles and ligaments, and improve pain. Furthermore, by bettering alignment and stability in the pelvis, this can also help with pain relief and comfort during pregnancy.
Chiropractic care is also effective in helping during prenatal pain but also for postpartum rehabilitation of the body.
Call today and see how chiropractic care can help you have a more enjoyable pregnancy and better birth!