What is Pelvic Pain?
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.
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.
What are the common of causes of Pelvic Pain?
Some of the most common causes of pelvic pain include:
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
myofascial trigger points in the muscles of the pelvic floor
pressure on one or more nerves in the pelvis
weakness in the muscles of the pelvis and pelvic floor
scar tissue after abdominal or pelvic surgery
organic disease processes
How long should I wait before I seek treatment for Pelvic Pain?
Regardless of the cause of pelvic pain , the sooner you start therapy the better. Research has shown that the brain works best for compensation, or recovery, in the first few months after a dysfunction occurs. This time period is optimal for pelvic rehabilitation to promote the best chance for recovery.
How can physical therapy help resolve symptoms of Pelvic Pain?
Your physical therapist will perform an examination to identify the causes of pelvic pain. Your therapist also will determine whether you should be referred to a physician for additional tests. Based on the evaluation results, your physical therapist will individualize treatments to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and improve their function.
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 individualized treatment plan for the patient suffering from pelvic pain.
Your physical therapist will:
Show you how to "find" the right muscles and use them correctly.
Uses appropriate techniques to address muscle tightness.
Use pelvic floor exercises to help you strengthen your muscles.
Instruct you in exercises to stretch and strengthen other important muscles of your body.
Suggest behavioral modifications to help alleviate your symptoms.
Depending on your symptoms and level of discomfort, your physical therapist may use biofeedback to make you aware of how your pelvic floor muscles work and how you can control them better. Electrodes attached vaginally or rectally will provide measurements of muscle activity and display them on a monitor, and the therapist will work with you to help you understand and change those readings. The therapist also may use electrical stimulation to improve your awareness of your muscles and increase muscle strength. Other treatment strategies may include retraining of incoordinated muscles, postural training, and strengthening of the abdominal core muscles.
What are my therapy sessions going to be like?
Your physical therapist will perform a detailed examination to identify the causes of your pelvic pain symptoms. Your therapist also will determine whether you should be referred to a physician for additional tests. Based on the evaluation results, your physical therapist will individualize treatments to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and improve their function. In addition, general exercise is often prescribed to improve overall physical health and well-being.
Depending on your symptoms and level of discomfort, your physical therapist may use biofeedback to make you aware of how your pelvic floor muscles work and how you can control them better. Electrodes attached vaginally or rectally will provide measurements of muscle activity and display them on a monitor, and the therapist will work with you to help you understand and change those readings. The therapist also may use electrical stimulation to improve your awareness of your muscles and increase muscle strength.
How soon can I expect to see improvements?
Each patient is unique, so this time frame can vary greatly. Research shows that depending on the severity of your condition, it takes from 2 weeks to a few months of treatment to improve symptoms of pelvic pain. We most often request a frequency of 2-3 times a week for 12 total visits. That is why our office staff will ask you to schedule all 12 of your sessions before starting therapy. If you need more than 12 sessions, your therapist will discuss this with you after you have completed 12 visits and you will decide together whether continuing with therapy would benefit you or not. If so, your therapist will reevaluate you and send a progress note to your physician requesting an extension.
What are the credentials of my uro-gynecologycal physical therapist?
Uro-gynecological physical therapists have been trained in internal vaginal and rectal evaluation and treatment techniques and are by our state license legally allowed and qualified to perform these procedures.
All licensed physical therapists have had to apply and be selected to attend Physical Therapy school. It is a very competitive process and only those will the highest grades and best potential are selected. Doctors of physical therapy have invested a minimum of 7 years into their undergraduate and graduate training at universities. Once they graduate, they have to sit for a State Board Exam and pass to receive their license to practice. In order to keep their license active, they must dedicate a certain number of hours to continuing education each year.
At Anchor Physical Therapy we also require that therapists attend multiple post-graduate continuing education courses every year to stay up to date with latest research and continuously enhance their treatment skills in order to achieve the best possible treatment outcomes for our patients.