What is SPD?
A condition which causes women to experience recurring pelvic pain and mobility difficulties during their pregnancy is known as PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain) and was formerly referred to as SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction). This is a fairly common pregnancy complication and the pain it causes can range from mild to severe. In the worst case scenarios sufferers are incapacitated and have to use crutches or wheelchairs. The condition is caused by your pelvic bones becoming unstable. Outside of pregnancy your pelvic bones are tightly connected so much so that they appear as one bone. They are held in an almost fixed position by three joints which are the sacro-iliac joints either side of the base of your spine and the symphysis joint at the front. When you become pregnant these joints loosen in preparation for your baby to move through your pelvis at birth. The hormone ‘relaxin’ causes the softening of the ligaments of the joints so that this movement occurs. If you are a PGP sufferer your relaxin hormone excessively softens your ligaments so that they become overstretched which causes your joints to become misaligned and unstable. All the joints of your pelvis are then strained and your symphysis pubis is prevented from adequately supporting your pelvic bones during movement which causes you pain. Your growing baby can make the pain more severe. If you think you may be suffering from PGP then visit your doctor to seek a diagnosis. Many women complain of aches and pains during pregnancy and so PGP symptoms are often just put down to a normal part of pregnancy. If you are concerned that your symptoms are more serious and you think you have PGP then insist that your doctor arranges an examination of your pelvic joints. Be emphatic about describing the severity of your symptoms and the pain you are experiencing. Treatment of PGP is dependent on the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor could prescribe one or more of the following: • Painkillers • Physiotherapy • Joint support • Alternative therapies • Occupational therapy • Surgery Whilst you are suffering from PGP it is important to avoid too much movement that adds pressure to your pelvic joints. As soon as you feel pain you will know what these movements are. Swimming might not cause you pain whilst you are doing it but it can set in later on so be careful even with this activity. Generally, you can reduce pressure on your pelvis if you: • Avoid twisting your body • Avoid lifting or pushing heavy loads • Go up steps slowly one at a time • Put a rolled up towel or cushion between your legs when you sleep at night • Move both of your legs together when you get out of bed, get up off the sofa or get out of your car • Get plenty of rest • Stay active whilst remaining comfortable • Do not ignore the pain and accept your limits By Eirian Hallinan