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Treating Pelvic Pain

Do you suffer from having pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic region? Is there pain with having sex, urination, bowel movements, exertion, walking, and other daily activities? Are you aware that some physical therapists here in the Brazos Valley are specifically trained in pelvic floor pain? Physical therapy is an important addition to your family physicians' plan of care. Here is why:

Chronic pelvic pain is a common and often unbearable problem that can have profound effects on the physical and emotional health for both men and women. Is chronic pelvic pain a more common problem for women? One research study found the incidence of chronic pelvic pain to be similar to that of migraine, back pain, and asthma, making it one of the most common problems seen in medical practice for women ages 12 to 70. Additionally, around 9% of women having hysterectomy surgery will develop pelvic pain or back pain within 2 years from their surgery. Personally, I think 9% is a very low number because many women just live with their pain - thinking nothing can be done.

Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) is not a specific disease and the term CPP refers to the symptom of pain, specifically, the duration and location of the pain. Pain is considered "chronic" when it has been present for at least 6 months. Patients with CPP may report pain in a variety of different areas in the region below the belly button. They may report pain both internally and externally; one-side, both sides, or right in the middle; or shooting into the low back, belly, buttocks, hips, or thighs. The pain may be related to a woman's menstrual cycle, only occurring once in awhile, after having a baby, post-surgery, or be constantly present. Patients with CPP may describe pain with intercourse and changes in bowel and urinary habits. CPP can be the result of a number of different disease processes, or muscle imbalances. It can be difficult to identify the true origin of a patient's symptoms, often leaving the sufferer with more questions than answers, and a significant medical record of seeking various treatments without relief. However, it is very important for you to know that you still have effective treatment options when it comes to pain relief, and the answer is not always found in repeated trials of medications or surgery.

Physical therapy is usually a welcome addition to the medical management of CPP because it often results in significant pain relief, improvement in function, and provides strategies for patients to manage and treat their pain more effectively. Pelvic pain can be caused by problems such as pelvic joint dysfunction; muscle imbalance within the muscles of the pelvic floor, trunk, and/or hips; lack of coordination in the muscles related to bowel and bladder function; tender points in the muscles of the pelvic floor; pressure on one or more nerves in the pelvis; and weakness in the muscles of the pelvis and pelvic floor. Pelvic pain can also be related to the presence of scar tissue after abdominal or pelvic surgery. There can also be an identifiable disease process related to pelvic pain. Therefore, it is important to consult your physician and explore other effective options to fully determine the cause of your pain.

Physical therapy treatment typically does not directly target the pelvic or abdominal organs. Rather, PT treatment is based on the principal of referred pain and therefore, physical therapists may treat the muscle, nerve, and joint consequences of organ dysfunction. While this may or may not entirely eliminate the source of a person's pain, it will reduce the person's pain and improve overall function. Physical therapists are trained to evaluate and treat potential causes of pelvic pain, which can include: joint dysfunction, muscle tightness, weakness in muscle groups, nerve entrapments, scar tissue, tissue sensitivity, and failed surgery.

Physical therapists trained specifically in the area of pelvic health can confidently identify the possible generators of pelvic pain and develop a treatment plan specific to the patient. A physical therapist trained in this area will utilize hands on techniques to address muscle tightness or targeted exercises to improve muscle strength and reduce faulty patterns of muscle recruitment. Other treatment strategies may include: biofeedback, retraining of muscles to improve coordination, postural training, strengthening of the abdominal core muscles, acupressure techniques, and laser, dry needling, and relaxation and mindfulness techniques. You should be aware of all your options when it comes to treatment of pelvic pain. A physical therapist trained in the area of pelvic pain can provide effective, natural, non-invasive treatment to help alleviate your pelvic pain. Talk to your Family Physician about a referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist. Your pain problem can be significantly reduced or eliminated!

If you are in search of treating your pain and want a pain-free life, contact my clinic at 979-776-2225 to set up an appointment. I promise you that physical therapy can change your life for the better.

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