Pregnancy hormones result in increased flexibility of our joints and cartilage. Due to the complexity and high cartilage content of our pelvis, this increased flexibility is often most noticeable in our hips and pelvis. As a result, our body relies more on our muscles, in order to give us stability. If we have muscle imbalances prior to pregnancy, these imbalances might become more noticeable during pregnancy. If our body is unable to recruit muscles in order to give the joints more stability, pain often will occur.
The pubic symphysis is a cartilage plate that sits in the front of the pelvis and joins the two sides of our pelvis together (see picture below). Typically, this joint is very stable. However, due to its high cartilage content, during pregnancy, hormone changes can cause increased movement and thus pain, at this joint.
Often women will report pain is worse with any activity in which the legs are separated from one another. Activities that commonly will cause increased pain include:
Often, the pain is very transient and brief, however it can be extremely sharp. Many women become very cautious with moving due to fear that the pain will occur.
It is highly recommended that anyone experiencing pain in the pubic symphysis be evaluated by a pelvic floor physical therapist. It is important to assess muscle imbalances and joint restrictions that could be resulting in increased pain, as well as discuss activity modifications in order to decrease stress through the pubic symphysis. Sometimes, a therapist will recommend a stabilization belt which helps to give some compression to the two sides of the pelvis.
Remember, you shouldn’t have to live with the pain. Even if it is very common, pubic symphysis dysfunction can be managed and alleviated. If you are suffering with pubic symphysis pain and dysfunction, make an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist so that you can enjoy a happy, healthy and pain-free pregnancy!