What is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction?

What is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction?

Erin Burt

I tried to speak clearly through the tears.

“I can’t roll over to get out of bed. I can’t walk.”

“You can’t walk?” the triage nurse seemed confused.

I didn’t know how to describe my pain. Any time I twisted my hips, pain shot through my pelvis and spine. I would cry out in pain, collapsing on the bed. My husband had to return to work, so I would spend entire days in bed with a pile of cloth diapers and a tiny newborn. Friends came over in shifts to help me to the bathroom and bring me food and water.

I was an invalid.

My dad drove me to doctors and physical therapists. Everyone seemed at a loss as to what to do with me. Finally, out of desperation, I sent a text to my midwife hoping she had an idea of what to do. She immediately called and said, “It sounds like Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. Go to the chiropractor and buy this book immediately.”

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, I learned, is basically when your body’s relaxin hormone (the helpful hormone that kicks in during pregnancy to make your ligaments all stretchy so you can, you know, give birth) kicks into overdrive and makes your ligaments a little TOO stretchy. Your pelvis falls out of alignment, causing extreme pain that is usually restricted to the pubic area, but that can also affect hips, back and perineum. According to Cecile Rost, author of “Relieving Pelvic Pain During and After Pregnancy,” SPD affects about 1 in every 300 women, though that number is actually probably higher, as most women are not diagnosed.

I followed the recommended stretches in Rost’s book and was shocked that within a couple of days I was walking again. I went to the chiropractor three times a week for months and slowly worked my way back to my normal activities. Once I learned about SPD, I joined several groups online and found that some women even end up in wheelchairs before learning about SPD and ways to alleviate their pain.

With subsequent pregnancies, the SPD has reared its ugly head earlier and earlier. Thankfully, I know to do my stretches and visit my chiropractor and I have not experienced pain like my first pregnancy. And, anytime a friend complains about that specific pain, I know exactly where to direct her.

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, and reading. She blogs at karagaris.com.

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