Commonly Treated Conditions- Pelvic Pain Syndromes
Pelvic pain is described as pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis, or perineum and is considered to be chronic when symptoms have been present for more than six months. The pain may be described as aching or burning in the area of the perineum or abdomen.
What causes pelvic pain?
Pelvic pain can be caused by problems such as pelvic joint dysfunction, muscle imbalance within the muscles of the pelvic floor, trunk, and/or pelvis, incoordination 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 be organic disease processes related to pelvic pain as well therefore it is important to consult your physician to fully determine the cause of your pain,
What are the symptoms of pelvic pain?
Symptoms of pelvic pain, in addition to pain in the lower abdomen and pelvis, may include: pain in the hip or buttock, pain in the tailbone, limited sitting tolerance, pain in the joints of the pelvis, pain with sexual intercourse, tender points in the muscles of the abdomen, reduced range of motion in the hips and lumbar spine, urinary frequency, urgency, or incontinence, painful bowel movements, constipation and/or straining with bowel movements.
How can physical therapy help?
Physical therapists are trained to evaluate and treat joint dysfunction, muscle tightness, weakness or imbalance in muscle groups, and nerve entrapment- all potential signs of pelvic pain. Physical therapists trained specifically in the area of pelvic health can identify the possible generators of pelvic pain and develop a treatment plan specific to the patient suffering from pelvic pain. A physical therapist trained in this area may 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 uncoordinated muscles, postural training, and strengthening of the abdominal core muscles.
Sexual Pain: Tips to Reclaim Your Sex Life
There are many reasons men and women have sexual pain. Sexual pain in this discussion refers to any discomfort that occurs in the genital area during sexual intercourse or foreplay. Sexual pain can occur at any age. Vaginal pain conditions can include skin irritations and tight muscles near the external female genitalia or vulva and in the pelvic floor, which is a bowl of muscles spanning from the pubic bone anteriorly to the coccyx bone posteriorly. Physical trauma to the genital area including a history of sexual abuse can also be a factor in sexual pain. In men, similar symptoms may require treatment. It is important to get the right medical diagnosis for your pain, as well as the right treatment for your symptoms. Seek the help of doctors and other allied healthcare professionals who are trained in this field. Tight muscles and joints near the back, buttocks, legs, stomach or genital area can trigger tenderness or pain in the vaginal or rectal areas. Physical Therapists can help alleviate this pain by stretching and relaxing tissues that are close to and around the pelvis.
Consult with a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic pain about your specific needs. There are many physical therapists that do manual soft tissue massage and use other modalities to help heal tissues and decrease pain in the vaginal and rectal areas. Your physical therapist might teach you how to work on the internal or external vaginal and rectal tissues or how to use a cylindrical tool called a dilator to stretch these muscles and lessen sexual pain. Other medical professionals who specialize in treating men and women with sexual pain include urogynecologists, urologists, gynecologists, sex therapists, psychotherapists, colorectal and pelvic pain doctors. Once an accurate diagnosis is made for your symptoms, there are very effective treatments. If one treatment approach does not work, try another approach. Certain conditions may take months to relieve. Keep searching for help until you find someone or some combination of treatments that works for you!
From the Women's Health Section of the APTA