Symphysis pubis syndrome

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) is a condition that causes excessive movement of the pubic symphysis, either forwards or sideways, as well as associated pain, possibly because of a misalignment of the pelvis. Most commonly associated with pregnancy and childbirth, it is thought to affect up to one in four pregnant women to varying degrees, with 7% of sufferers continuing to experience serious symptoms after the baby is born.

SPD is associated with pelvic girdle pain and the names are often used interchangeably. Pubic pain can be the result of other musculoskeletal problems so it is wise to get any pain checked out by an osteopath or a therapist. Manipulation may be required but certainly soft tissue work will be imperative and should give relief.

Pubic Symphysis Syndrome can be totally debilitating and we have seen many ladies struggle in to the clinic on crutches. Some have had to rely on regular home visits.

It has a severe impact on life as walking is excruciatingy painful as are other movements, making sleeping very difficult too.

A study of Owens K. et al. shows that this injury arises in the first three months of pregnancy for 9% of women, in the second for 44%, in the third for 15% and postnatal for 2%. Symphysis pubis dysfunction has been described as a collection of signs and symptoms of discomfort and pain in the pelvic area, including pelvic pain radiating to the upper thighs and perineum (private parts).

The symphysis pubis is the joint at the front of your pelvis – the one that opens to allow baby’s head out. It is the front joint of the pelvis with the more commonly injured sacroiliac joints at the back. Sometimes, the joint starts to open earlier than it should leading to imbalances. The imbalance may well be coming from tight muscles e.g. the hip adductor muscles which you would  use to grip on to a horse. It may also be coming from a pelvis that is out of alignment.



Osteopathy and Remedial and Sports Massage are the treatment of choice for this condition. Working on leg muscles helps ease the pain while at the same time helps to balance the pelvis. Osteopathic techniques may be required for the pubic and sacroiliac joints. These are gentle techniques and should help a great deal. 

As pregnant ladies know, avoiding drugs is of prime importance and these treatments should help necessitate the need for strong painkillers.