Let’s Have a Talk About Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction
I thought I would take a break from telling you about my pregnancy pain story and give you some information about Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. Why hold everyone hostage, when some of you are in pain and could do with some info and tips on pain relief?
So What Is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)?
You can click the link to read more about the condition here, but in layman’s (or laywoman’s terms) it’s basically a condition that affects the way the pelvic joints move, especially in pregnancy. Your ‘pubis symphysis’ is a fancy medical term for the stiff joint that connects the two front-halves of your pelvic bone. This condition causes a great deal of pain or discomfort in your pelvic area, but the pain can vary from person to person or even from pregnancy to pregnancy. Below is an image of the pelvic bone. The red circle highlights where the pain can or will be.
Yeah, pretty much pain everywhere. Ouch.
Some will have mild stiffness, soreness or a dull ache while others can be affected with such severe pain to the point where they end up on crutches or in a wheelchair during pregnancy. Note that most women’s SPD eases or disappears after pregnancy (usually within 6 months postnatal), but some suffer from flare-ups or continued pain years after pregnancy.
Most commonly, the pain is experienced during the second trimester, but women can feel the symptoms or suffer from SPD early in their first trimester or as late as postnatal period shortly after giving birth. Don’t let this scare you. Firstly, you are not alone.
In fact, figures show that SPD affects at least 1 in 4 pregnancies and this may be even higher depending on where you live in the world. That’s at least a quarter of pregnant women in total though. So, no, you are not alone and yes, you will be okay.
Pregnancy: the gift that keeps on giving
What Causes SPD?
Your guess is as good as researchers. No one knows . . . yet.
Some research points towards the hormone Relaxin.* Relaxin is a hormone that is produced by the ovary and placenta to loosen up the ligaments in the pelvic region and help widen the cervix. In theory, the hormone should help relax the pelvic area and make it easier for the baby to grow, while also loosening things up in the nether regions before it’s time to give birth. Makes sense, right? Sure. Sometimes too much Relaxin is produced too quickly which makes everything all loosey-goosey, which also can cause misalignment of the pelvis. Also makes sense, right? Ugh. Although this is true, Relaxin is not always the cause of SPD. When and if the culprit is ever discovered, I will surely have my great-great grandchildren update this blogpost.
My suspicion is that this type of pain is not generally talked about because research has been slow-coming until fairly recently. Of course I’m not blaming researchers for not making SPD a priority, but that recent spark that ignited the research-fire to begin with must have come as a result of some people in the medical field finally realizing this specific pain wasn’t just ‘regular pregnancy-related pain.’ Either that or someone was just sick of seeing pregnant women waddle around like stiff penguins and he or she thought they would look into what their problem was. It’s still a promising thought though, that SPD is being recognized in medical research circles around the globe and lots of experts are choosing not to dismiss our pain as just ‘part-in-parcel’ of pregnancy.
In recent years research, general discussion, information and proper diagnoses of SPD really has improved exponentially.* Still, for all who still brush off the pain . . . whether it’s ourselves (for various reasons), our loved ones or friends, our doctors or perhaps even our midwives, this dismissal needs to be addressed. We need a collective effort to recognize that some pregnancy pain is not “just that normal pain you should expect in pregnancy,” nor should people view us as “weaklings” for wanting relief from the pain. By in large, we grin and bear most of it, but perhaps we shouldn’t always do that or be told to do that. After all, some of these pregnancy-related conditions can have long lasting effects and it is us and our bodies that are left to deal with the chronic ailments afterwards. That reminds me, my Mom has a story for you about that for another day.
What Can Cure My SPD?
One of the reasons why I hope this blog will be useful is because there were lots of questions I had and the information out there was either non-existent or scary. I’ve described some of the symptoms or pain you may be experiencing or could prepare for (link to second blog post), but this may be a good time to break the news to you concerning the cure. Drumroll: There isn’t one.
No news isn’t always good news.
I mean, we’ve only been having children for a few million years or so, so why rush for a cure, right? I’m sorry for all this bad news so far. I know I have bogged you down with a lot of wordiness and jargon about SPD, but some of you will want to know what SPD is, so I thought I would provide a nice succinct summary for you.
For now, relish in this new knowledge about SPD. Congratulations you are now an armchair expert along with me and countless others. Go spread the word. Don’t be afraid of SPD. Don’t let it get you down. Tomorrow, let’s go over some useful tips on how to deal with SPD pain.
OMG, you are a pro about SPD.
Feel free to comment on your own pain and provide tips from your own expertise!
Have a great day!
*P.S. If you would like to read more concerning medical research relating to SPD, I have provided a select list of recent academic articles below.
Recent Medical Research Relating to SPD:
Bastiaanssen, Janneke M., Rob. A de Bie, Caroline H.G. Bastianene, et al. “A historical perspective on pregnancy-related low back and/or pelvic girdle pain.” European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. Vol. 120, no. 1, 2005, pp. 3-14. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301211504006104
Erdogan, Aslan & Michelle Fynes. “Symphysial pelvic dysfunction. Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Vol. 19, no. 2, 2007, pp. 133-139. http://journals.lww.com/co-obgyn/Abstract/2007/04000/Symphysial_pelvic_dysfunction.7.aspx
Essilfie, Papa & M. Hussain. “Symphysis pubis dysfunction in pregnancy-fact or fantasy?” Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2013, 3, 192-194. http://file.scirp.org/pdf/OJOG_2013020810384875.pdf
Leadbetter, R.E., D. Mawer & SW Lindow. “Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction: A Review of the Literature.” The Journal of Maternal, Fetal and Neo-Natal Medicine. Published Online 07 Jul 2009, pp. 349-54. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/jmf.16.6.349.354
Wellock, Vanda K., & Margaret A. Crichton. “Understanding pregnant women’s experiences of symphysis pubis dysfunction: the effect of pain.” Evidence-Based Midwifery. Vol. 5, no. 2, 2007, p. 40+. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA167108907&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=fulltext&issn=14794489&p=AONE&sw=w&authCount=1&isAnonymousEntry=true
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