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What Is Osteitis Pubis?

Rugby players are prone to osteitis pubis injuries.
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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 22 July 2014
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Osteitis pubis is an acute or chronic injury to the small joint in the middle of the pelvis, known as the pubic symphysis. The condition is most commonly seen in athletes who play contact sports, though it can also afflict pregnant women and elderly people with weakened joints. An inflamed pubic symphysis is likely to cause local tenderness and painful twinges that radiate throughout the groin and abdominal region. In most cases, osteitis pubis can be overcome in about three months with rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and followup physical therapy. Severe injuries may require surgery to repair badly damaged joints.

The pubic symphysis is a narrow, cartilage-filled joint that helps stabilize the pelvis during activity. The joint can become acutely inflamed if the pelvis suffers a direct blow, or it can gradually deteriorate as the result of frequent overuse. Football, hockey, and rugby players are especially prone to direct injuries due to high-impact tackles and falls. Athletes who engage in sports where intense running, jumping, kicking, and stopping are common are at the highest risk of developing chronic osteitis pubis.

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Common symptoms of osteitis pubis include swelling and tenderness in the groin region. Sharp, shooting pains and dull aches envelop the abdomen, groin, and genitals. An athlete who is developing a chronic condition is likely to notice worsening pain during and after physical activity. In serious cases, symptoms can be severe enough to make it very uncomfortable or impossible to walk. Even mild pains should be reported to a physician or trainer so a proper diagnosis can be made.

A doctor who suspects osteitis pubis can perform a series of diagnostic imaging tests to check for signs of pubis symphysis inflammation. Magnetic resonance imaging and computerized tomography scans are also used to make sure the surrounding bones, ligaments, and pieces of cartilage tissue are not damaged. Blood tests may be performed to rule out viral infections and other possible causes of inflammation.

Mild instances of osteitis pubis can usually be relieved by avoiding physical activity for several days, icing the joint regularly, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs. A doctor may inject a corticosteroid solution directly into the pubic symphysis if pain is debilitating. Once the joint starts feeling better, a patient can engage in light stretching and strengthening exercises to complete the recovery phase. Surgery is reserved for recurring or especially serious cases of osteitis pubis. A patient who does undergo an operation can expect to spend several months in physical therapy before he or she can return to normal activity.

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Discuss this Article

anon354318
Post 5

During my third and last pregnancy back in 2000, I developed osteitis pubis. I'd-ever heard of it, and I often described it as constantly feeling as though I had been gang-raped. I could only take two inch steps, it hurt to walk, sit, stand or lie down. I was miserable.

Since I was in my third trimester, my doctor put me on bed rest from my sixth month until delivery. Since I was pregnant, there weren't a whole lot of options for this terrible pain; the doctor said the only cure for it was delivery.

I refused to take any opioids, or pain meds during my pregnancy, so all I could really do was lie in bed until my delivery hoping to get through those next three months.

cloudel
Post 4

@OeKc05 – At the beginning of my pregnancy, I was still running for exercise. This is why I developed osteitis pubis at that time.

Though I did want to be able to run again, I knew that during this delicate time in my life, I should be resting instead. I just used ice packs, since I was leery of taking any type of medicine while pregnant, and I had my husband do all the strenuous chores.

After I had my baby, I did visit a physical therapist. She had me do some running in water, and this is how I recovered fully from my condition. I was even able to run again a few months later.

OeKc05
Post 3

I got osteitis while I was pregnant, and I saw a chiropractor for help. I knew that I couldn't do much physical activity while pregnant, so I didn't go to a physical therapist.

The chiropractor has done a bit of good, but I am still suffering. Does anyone have any suggestions for what I should do? Since I'm not trying to get active again for the next few months, should I just lie around and rest, or should I see some other type of specialist?

Oceana
Post 2

My good friend is a runner, and she had osteitis pubis two years ago. After running a marathon, she noticed that she was unusually sore. She figured it would go away in a day or two, but it didn't.

A couple of days after its onset, she tried to do some abdominal exercises. When she attempted to lift her hips and lower abs off the floor, she experienced such pain that she felt as though she had been shot.

Her osteitis pubis treatment included four months of physiotherapy. Her therapist had her do light movements and exercises that would eventually make her able to run again. She said that she felt as though she were recovering from a horrible car accident.

orangey03
Post 1

My brother was a football star in high school, and he developed osteitis pubis. Unfortunately, his football dreams ended with it.

He had been such a good player. He was so intense at practice and in games, and this severity of motion is what brought on his condition.

Sometimes, the pain was sharp, like being stabbed with a knife. At other times, it was a persistent soreness, as though he had been hit with a considerable blow.

His physical therapist told him that he had to quit the football team, at least for a few months, to recover. The coach and other players were upset over this, but they understood that it had to happen.

He took ibuprofen and applied ice packs to the area. Since this joint is rarely used for everyday movement, he didn't have to be bedridden. He simply had to refrain from sports.

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