Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction. Do you have it?

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I do. I’ve had it since April 2013 when I was 2 months pregnant with our son. I wasn’t officially diagnosed with it until January 13, 2014. Yes, nearly an entire YEAR passed and nobody would do anything to help me. I’m here to help YOU if you have pubic and/or pelvic pain – because it’s important to address it ASAP.

What is it? According to What to Expect “Symphysis pubic dysfunction, or SPD, is one of those weird pregnancy conditions that sounds bizarre and well, kind of is. It means the ligaments that normally keep your pelvic bone aligned during pregnancy become too relaxed and stretchy. This, in turn, can make the pelvic joint — aka the symphysis pubis — unstable, causing some pretty strange sensations and sometimes pain.” 

What is it in my opinion? Hell. After months and months of getting the run-around from several OB doctors (there’s more than one in the practice I go to), my Primary Care Physician finally diagnosed me with it. Of course, I was happy to know that it was something REAL, but also pissed because it had gone on so long without being diagnosed and properly treated. For nearly 11 months I’ve been living my life in pain almost constantly. Between the stabbing pain, burning, aching and numbing sensations, I’m never comfortable whether standing, sitting or lying down. I’ve spent the past 7 months sleeping in a recliner because I can’t sleep in a bed. The past two months the only comfortable place to sit is in the recliner. I have a love/hate relationship with our recliner.

After being diagnosed I was prescribed non-narcotics for the pain and an anti-inflammatory for swelling. I was also sent to have an X-Ray of my pelvis. Luckily, I got in for the X-Ray the same day and had my results on the next day. It turns out my Pubic Symphysis is separated to 11 mm. Normal function is at 1-2 mm. Of course, there is SOME separation right after birth due to the baby going through the birth canal, but it generally goes back to normal within a few weeks. Mine was still at 11 mm 2 months after Owen was born.

Anyway, I was sent to a Physical Therapist who specializes in women’s health and pelvic issues. She. Is. Amazing! She has had MANY patients with the same problem I have, was able to tell me about what’s going on with my pubic symphysis in detail, and she knows all the techniques to relieve pain and stress on the pelvis and get it back in shape!  I’m only three weeks into my physical therapy routine, but I can tell it’s already helping. I’m still not able to sleep in a bed, but we’ll get there. I’ve noticed less pain during the day as long as I consistently do my exercises and wear my support belt off and on throughout the day.

How do you know if you have SPD? The symptoms of SPD according to PregMed.org are,

  • Severe pain that tends to get worse when you lift your legs for getting into bed or a car
  • Difficulty to move the lower part of your body when you wake up in the morning
  • Pain that gets worse when you lie on your back
  • Pain that worsens when you try to turn over in your bed
  • Reduced range of movement of the hip bones, causing difficulty walking
  • Pain shooting down your buttocks and legs (sciatica)
  • A clicking sound near the pelvic area when you walk or move your legs
  • Urinary incontinence (rare cases)

I had all of the symptoms above except for the last two. Even though I described these symptoms to my OB, they still didn’t bother taking the time to examine me further and rule out SPD. If your OB dismisses your symptoms and concerns, GET A SECOND OPINION. I wish I had at the beginning and maybe I wouldn’t still be struggling with SPD.

Although there are risk factors, ANYONE can be diagnosed with SPD regardless of their size, how many children they’ve had, or the size of the baby. Yes, I am overweight but this was my first pregnancy and Owen was average size at birth.

I am telling my story and getting the word out because I don’t want anyone to suffer as long as I did or go through this horrible experience altogether. It’s such an overlooked condition and can cause long-term effects if not treated.  In my research over the past few weeks, I’ve found that it’s a super-recognized condition in the UK and most of the information I’ve found is from there. This story is amazing and scary at the same time. Lucilla endured SPD through two pregnancies and unfortunately ended up disabled and in a wheelchair because it was such a severe case. Although this is very rare, it can  happen. In my mind, Lucilla is a rock star. She is living with a painful, debilitating condition but still carries on for her family.

If you suffer from any symptoms of SPD, please get checked out by your OB or PCP to diagnose it early.

Please spread the word about SPD! -themidwestmama

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