Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction: What Is Spd?

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) is the clinical term for a collective group of signs and symptoms of pain in the pelvic and groin area. Other names for this common condition include pelvic insufficiency, symphysis pain syndrome, pelvic joint syndrome, pelvic girdle pain and pubic symphysis dysfunction. All these terms refer to the same condition, that being instability of the ‘pubic symphysis’ joint that connects the two pubic bones together at the front of the pelvis.

When the surfaces of each pelvic bone lack their normal stability, pain can result. In severe cases, a full separation or displacement of the joint (>10mm) is called a Diastic Symphysis Pubis (DSP) and requires imaging for diagnosis.

What caused my Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction?

The exact cause of SPD is not yet known. However, what is known is that there are certain conditions that can predispose you to SPD more than others. Pregnancy is one such condition. During pregnancy, there is an altered load on the pelvis, and also a change in the hormones produced. Two hormones that are produced during early pregnancy are Relaxin and Progesterone. These hormones are responsible for breaking down collagen in the ligaments within the pelvic joint to cause laxity and softening of the ligaments.

As the ‘pubic symphysis’ joint relies a lot on the surrounding ligaments for support, these lax ligaments are unable to support the pelvis as usual, and will lead to joint dysfunction. Other factors that can contribute to the cause of this condition include, calcium deficiency, increased weight, weak abdominal musculature and anatomical variations.

How can you help me with my Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction?

Your physiotherapist will take a detailed history of your injury in order to provide you with the best possible diagnosis. They will also undertake a thorough physical examination of you pelvis, back, hip and knee in order to provide you with the best possible treatment plan. Typically, treatment will involve manual therapy to reduce your pain levels and return you to normal movement. You will also receive advice about how best to exercise and function with your SPD. Expect your physiotherapist to correct any muscle  imbalances, your gait biomechanics and look a your exercise technique in order to help you prevent any future recurrences.

What should I do to avoid aggravating my Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction?

  • AVOID activities that aggravate your pain, until you have seen a physiotherapist
  • REMAIN ACTIVE, while avoiding aggravating activities.
  • For RELIEF, applying ice to the area may help to reduce some pain and inflammation in the initial stages. Wrap the ice to prevent any direct contact with your skin
  • RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles performing to their optimum level.

Keep good care of your body and your physiotherapist will continue to monitor your condition. Once your Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction has resolved you will be able to resume your full activities without worrying about future flare-ups.

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