A survey collected by the University of Florida found 72 percent of women have experienced pelvic pain within the last year. Another study completed by National Institutes of Health and the University of Utah School of Medicine found that 30 percent of women have experienced pelvic pain on a chronic or cyclical basis for six months or more. Among these, less than one quarter asked a physician for advice or treatment.
“Pelvic pain is often a multi-factorial problem,” said Heather Baker, PT, DPT, COMT, pelvic pain and incontinence coordinator at Swedish Covenant Hospital. “Each patient and their pain are unique. Patients are evaluated individually by a physical therapist to determine their specific problem areas. Once we identify these, we can design a patient-specific treatment plan to address each issue in an effort to minimize the pain and maximize function.”
Conditions that cause pelvic pain include endometriosis, ovarian cysts, interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and urinary tract infections. To determine which of these you may be suffering from, seek the advice of a medical specialist.
Many women feel uncomfortable about the issue, but this shouldn’t keep you from seeking help. Choose a physician that you feel comfortable opening up to.
You may think your pelvic pain—even long-lasting, chronic pain—is natural, especially when it coincides with your menstruation cycle, but that may not be true. When in doubt, ask your primary care physician or OB GYN. They can provide an opinion on whether medical attention is required.
Although dealing with potential hassles in these areas can be frustrating, there is no reason to allow these inconveniences to keep you from your best health.
It’s sometimes easier to avoid addressing a medical condition than address it, but pain is difficult to ignore. When it comes to your health, it’s better to know. Proper understanding can help you manage your condition.
The American Physical Therapy Association recognizes the role that physical therapy can play in the management or elimination of pelvic pain related to some conditions.
“A commonly overlooked source of pelvic pain is the muscles and joints surrounding the pelvis,” said Nikki Doup, PT, DPT, a certified pelvic physical therapist at Swedish Covenant Hospital. “These conditions can often be treated conservatively using pelvic floor physical therapy which may include a combination of therapy and massage techniques, stretching and targeted exercises.”
“It a physical cause for the pain is identified, physical therapy is an excellent, minimally invasive treatment approach that can help manage and/or resolve the problem,” said Heather. “Therapy will also provide the patient with treatment techniques to use independently throughout their life to maintain their progress."
Brian P. McDonough, MD, FAAFPPeer
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