About 1 in 4 women have Pubic Symphysis dysfunction at some point during pregnancy and are often told this pain is a “normal” part of pregnancy. Experiencing Pelvic Pain should not be a common occurrence and is definitely not something you should have to live with.
The Pubic Symphysis is a term for the bony part in the front of your pelvis located in front of and continues on below your bladder. The pubic symphysis is normally an extremely stable joint and it accepts a lot of load from our bodies, especially while pregnant. However hormone changes during pregnancy impact the stability of this joint and cause increased flexibility of the surrounding ligaments. There can be concurrent pain in the low back, hip or lower abdomen that can be related back to the pubic symphysis as well.
For some women, the extra ligament flexibility causes things to slip and shift in this area, causing an alignment problem and therefore, pubic symphysis dysfunction. When this bony part gets irritated, It is common for this pain to be in the lower groin area, or even right above the pubic bone. This can interfere with a woman’s ability to walk, change position or do certain daily activities comfortably.
Pain is the most common complaint of Pubic symphysis dysfunction however some other signs include a change in how you walk. You may start to “waddle” when you walk or feel more unsteady and shift more to one side to avoid the pain.There will likely be increased pain with climbing stairs or any transition movements like sitting to standing or getting out of the car or putting on pants.
If you are starting to feel any of these symptoms, seeking Physical therapy is an effective way to gain relief and restore comfort throughout pregnancy. We will screen the pelvis, including strength and balance and joint mobility testing.
Treatment can include manual approaches including massage to reduce tissue tension in the area and strengthening muscles surrounding the pelvis. You will be given safe and effective management strategies including stretches and strengthening exercises. We will teach you different ways to lift and carry, this is especially important if you are a mom with young kids in order to learn how to safely carry your toddler while you are pregnant. We can also screen & fit you for the optimal pelvis and/or belly braces and supports to help you with your specific type of pain.
You can connect with a physical therapist to reduce already existing pubic symphysis pain, and/or prevent this pain from developing.
Here are a few ways you can start to self- manage your pain:
- Place ice over your pubic symphysis. You can use a frozen bag of peas or frozen bag of corn and place it right over the pubic bone, outside the body. Ice for 10-15 minutes at a time to decrease inflammation and pain.
- Move carefully and uniformly, imagine you are wearing a tight pencil skirt, and keep your legs together. For example getting in/out of your car–keep your legs together, lift them together over to the side and then stand up. To get in, turn sideways again, sit your bottom down on the seat and while keeping your legs together, lift them into the vehicle. Avoid splaying the legs apart as this places more stress on the joint, causing pain.
- Avoid deep squats. This pulls on the pelvis and causes more pain. You can keep exercising, but do more shallow squats and keep your legs about shoulder width apart to avoid excessive stress on the pubic symphysis.
- Avoid excessive stair climbing if possible. Take the elevator. If you can’t avoid stairs, be sure to do them one step at a time, leading with the same foot each step. With toddlers, do your best to get them to walk up the stairs on their own to avoid carrying them as this adds a lot more stress to your pelvis. Be careful about how much weight you carry while climbing stairs, this includes being mindful of laundry and grocery bags.
- Avoid taking large steps over objects. Do your best to avoid those scenarios. This includes side lunges or really wide spread movements during exercise.
- Avoid reaching for objects far away from you, move closer to the object instead.
- Avoid prolonged positioning including sitting or standing. Try to take breaks from prolonged sitting or standing. Try lying down instead to offload your pelvis.
- While sleeping, lie on your side (ideally on your left side in later stages of pregnancy) and place a pillow between your legs to keep your pelvis in a neutral position to avoid strain on your pubic symphysis.
If you are currently dealing with Pubic Symphysis Pains and would to talk with one of our experienced Pelvic Health Experts, Click here
Try some of these things at home if you’re currently in pain, but always reach out to a pelvic-trained physical therapist to assess you! Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction does not have to be something you deal with throughout your pregnancy, come on in and lets it taken care of!