Treatments for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)

January 19, 2018 at 12:19 pm

As I moved into the third trimester during my 5th pregnancy, I became painfully acquainted with a common pregnancy discomfort called Symphasis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). SPD was miserable. I felt horrible pain where the pubic bones come together every time I moved, especially when rolling over in bed, getting up and down, walking, and just generally moving at all.

As pregnancy hormones relax the pelvis, sometimes they work a little too well on the pelvic joints and things spread out more than they should. Having an “abnormal gap” in the symphysis pubis joint becomes more common the more pregnancies a woman has. So as I approach the third trimester in my 6th pregnancy, I am feeling very apprehensive. It’s likely I will experience SPD again, but I really don’t want to.

Yesterday morning, as I carefully maneuvered out of bed, I noticed a slight twinge in my pubic region and internally groaned… nooooo. Last night and this morning I felt it again. Before it develops into a severely painful case, I am determined to take steps to prevent it. So yesterday and today I have been researching SPD treatment methods. These are the things I am planning to try:

MaternaLIFT support bodysuit

I have purchased and tried a few different support belts for pregnancy, but none of them have seemed very helpful. Last night, I discovered MaternaLIFT and was instantly impressed. MaternaLIFT was designed in 2009 by an obstetric physical therapy specialist, Kevin Hansen, and a fashion designer, Jessica St Marie. Here’s a short video explaining how MaternaLIFT works.

Last night I ordered one on Amazon. It should arrive today, and I’m uber excited to try it. Based on the reviews and testimonials I have seen from other women suffering from SPD, I have high hopes for the MaternaLIFT. I will definitely keep you posted on how it works for me.

Exercises for the Pelvis

During my last pregnancy, my midwife suggested a couple of exercises that might help with my SPD. I didn’t notice a lot of improvement, but we also weren’t very consistent with doing the exercises. In my more recent research, I have found some other exercises to try. I plan to do all of the exercises I’m aware of so I can support my pelvis in whatever ways possible. Dr. Kevin Hansen has developed a series of exercises specifically for pregnancy pelvic discomfort and SPD. I only just learned about him yesterday, but I like what he’s doing for pregnant women. Here’s a video demonstration:

The following video demonstrates the basic exercises my midwife told me about during my 5th pregnancy:

More Lecithin

I’ve never heard of using lecithin for SPD, but I have previously blogged about using lecithin for other pregnancy-related pelvic pain. In 2010, I shared the story of my friend Meredith who found that eating eggs (excellent source of lecithin) eliminated her pregnancy pelvic pain. I also shared the perspectives of a doctor and midwife who recommend lecithin for pregnancy pain. Midwife Ronnie Falcao shared the following on her website:

In my midwifery training, we were taught that Lecithin works great for pelvic/hip pain caused by loose ligaments in the pelvis. It doesn’t effect the pelvis’ ability to move and expand during labour, but does help ‘keep things together’ and thus avoiding the pain during pregnancy.  [You can also increase B12 and folate supplements, which support methylation and increases natural lecithin levels.] (source)

Personally, I’d prefer get my lecithin from food sources. Lecithin actually derives its name from the Greek word for egg yolk. As you might guess, egg yolks are one of the highest and best sources of lecithin. I’ve read in several places online that keeping the yolk raw will provide the most lecithin. I’m not entirely sure if this is true, but it seems to be repeated often on the Internet. Naturopath Margaret Hurst says:

The best food source of lecithin is egg yolks. . . . Cooking at high temperatures denatures or destroys the lecithin. This means that any form of cooking that results in runny yolks preserves the lecithin. . . . Egg yolks cooked solid do not have the same benefit (Source).

I prefer my egg yolks runny anyway, so it works for me, especially since I typically buy free-range/organic eggs (less likely to harbor salmonella). For those who are nervous about eating eggs raw, there are many other sources of lecithin: legumes, meats, seafood, whole-fat dairy products, and supplements.

Chiropractic Care

My current midwife recently encouraged me to visit her favorite local chiropractor. I probably should, but the expense is preventing me from plunging in. If my SPD doesn’t improve with the MaternaLIFT, exercises, and lecithin, I will definitely consider chiropractic care. Research hasn’t explored treatment options for SPD very extensively, so there is only limited evidence that chiropractic care is beneficial for SPD. But there is some evidence–mostly case studies. Here’s one with a 30-year-old woman with severe SPD pain:

The patient’s pain improved immediately following [chiropractic] treatment on the initial visit. Pain was reduced from 8/10 VAS at the first visit to 2/10 at the fourth visit. She was able to resume normal activities and reached a final pain level of 1/10 (Source).

Have you experienced SPD during pregnancy? What did you find helpful? Please share in the comments!