What Is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) & Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)?

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You may be asking yourself what is symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) & pelvic girdle pain (PGP)?

SPD and PGP refer to instability, dysfunction, discomfort or pain in the pelvic region, specifically the symphysis pubis joint and sacroiliac joints. You need a copy of Gray’s Anatomy just to give a name to your sore joints and backache once you’re pregnant!

Confused? You’re not alone. A few new clients lately have been feeling a little flummoxed by some of the terms being used for whatever it is they’re suffering from… sometimes midwives, antenatal teachers, doctors, personal trainers or your best friend, don’t use the same language.

So I’ve done a mini glossary of the ones you’re likely to come across or suffer from.

Pelvic Girdle Pain: A Mini glossary

Diastasis Symphysis Pubis (DSP) is an actual separation of the Symphysis Pubis Joint This can only be confirmed by diagnostic imaging by a doctor or physiotherapist.

Whilst Pregnancy-Related Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) and Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) both refer to pregnancy-associated pain, instability and dysfunction of the Symphysis Pubis Joint and/or the Sacro-Iliac Joint.

Pain may be minor discomfort, necessitating some modification of movement… right up the scale to severe pain and disability. Make sure you consult a physiotherapist or professional trainer who specialises in this area and don’t go to just any generic exercise class or instructor.

The joints affected are the ones at the front and back of the pelvis. You may feel pain over the front of the pubic bone at the front, across your tummy, or across one or both sides of your lower back, or down your legs.

You may feel a clicking or grinding in your pelvis and have difficulty walking, especially up or downstairs. This ‘shearing’ movement (one leg in front of the other) or abduction (legs out to the sides) may also hurt, making getting in or out of a car, your bed, or any number of other everyday activities, painful.

Pregnancy-Related Pelvic Girdle Pain affects around 1 in 5 women, at varying degrees of severity. Around 7% of women continue to have problems postnatally.

General advice if you’re experiencing SPD or PGP

You will be advised by your Midwife or doctor to avoid or adapt as many painful movements as possible. So avoid heavy lifting, go carefully and slowly upstairs; keep your knees together as much as possible when getting on or out of the car; roll over onto your side to get out of bed…but many of these are part of life, and can’t really be avoided.

You can, however, help to alleviate pain with correctly prescribed core strengthening exercises.

The stability of your joints is affected by the pregnancy hormone, relaxin, but also by the strength of the muscles that hold them in place. Do NOT go to a generic class or instructor with PGP, they cannot be expected to accurately prescribe the correct exercises for you. But controlled, guided core strength and lower body resistance work will definitely help to strengthen and stabilise your joints and reduce pain.

We’ve put together an outline of some excellent exercises for pelvic girdle pain and symphisis pubis dysfunction here.

The MUTU System Program is safe and beneficial during a healthy, low-risk pregnancy. The 12 Week Program is safe for pregnant women. It focuses on alignment, muscle stretching and release, core and pelvic floor muscle connection and engagement, and includes low impact, more intensive workouts for you to progress to when you’re ready.

MUTU System programs are recommended and endorsed by specialist Physiotherapists and Industry experts.

Wendy Powell
Wendy Powell
Wendy Powell, Dip PT is Founder and CEO of MUTU System. Wendy is a highly certified postpartum specialist and master trainer, as well as a speaker, Femtech entrepreneur and mentor.

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