Pelvic Pain Disorders
Pelvic pain disorders can be influenced by many things and occur for many reasons. Pain can be felt in the genitals, pubic bone, back of the pelvis, lower abdomen, low back, hips and/or groin. Pelvic infections, surgery, trauma, child birth, hormonal changes, prolonged sitting, falls, certain sports or exercises, lifting injuries, pulled muscles and radiation therapy could all be contributing factors. Muscle tissue, connective tissue and skin integrity can affect these conditions. Pelvic pain conditions often prevent the wearing of restrictive clothing, using tampons, undergoing internal medical pelvic examinations, participating in sexual activity, prevent physical activity and interfere with daily activities like walking, sitting, bending and lifting. Pain can begin or worsen at any age.
The diagnosis that you receive is often based on the location and/or cause of your pain. Pain felt in the genitals can be called vestibulodynia, vaginismus or chronic prostatitis for example. Pain felt near the rectum could be related to levator ani syndrome, coccydinia or pudendal neuralgia. Sometimes pain occurs following a muscle sprain, joint dislocation or bone fracture.
Chronic pelvic pain is a label typically used to describe pain in the pelvis, perineum, abdominal wall, lower back, or buttocks, lasting longer than 6 months. It can be associated with a condition like endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, or prostatitis; or chronic pelvic pain can be a condition to itself. Often times, the cause of someone’s chronic pelvic pain remains unknown.
Occasionally, when someone experiences pain in their lower abdomen or pelvis, they tighten and overuse the muscles in this region. Sometimes they hold themselves in a painful or guarded posture. This can lead to hyper-contracted, fatigued or inflexible muscles, and might create muscle ‘knots’ or tender spots called trigger points. Pelvic floor physiotherapy aims to improve the control of the pelvic floor, helping to relax over-worked muscles, optimize flexibility and reduce trigger points. Breathing exercises, stretches, massage, relaxation training, coordination exercises, manual therapy (the use of the therapists’ hands to help painful, weak or inflexible tissues), posture changes, TENS, muscle stimulation, insertion training/dilation, sport’s tape or braces may all be used to help treat symptoms. Treatments are designed to help improve pelvic tissues and coping strategies that can work together to offer pain relief.