Chronic pelvic pain can leave women and men riddled with pain in the pelvic region for six months or longer. Pelvic floor physical therapists at RPT in Utah use targeted methods to treat chronic floor pain accurately.
Unfortunately, these issues are relatively common. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCIB), approximately one in seven women experience chronic pelvic pain in the United States.
Chronic pelvic floor pain can leave patients with disabling, persistent pain between their navel and groin. While the symptoms are relatively similar, the cause of the disease may vary. It is commonly associated with comorbidities such as urinary infections, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, or pelvic inflammatory syndrome.
To better understand the nuances surrounding pelvic floor muscle pain, our women’s health physical therapists put together a guide. Here is what you should know.
What is Chronic Pelvic Floor Pain?
Chronic pelvic pain refers to a medical condition where pain regularly occurs in your pelvic floor muscles or in organs in your pelvic region. The organs in this region can include:
- The bladder
- The uterus and vagina
- The prostate
- The rectum
It is a form of centralized pain, where the body develops a low threshold for pain in the pelvis. The pain ranges from mild to moderate pain to severe pain (hyperalgesia) or painful tactile sensations (allodynia).
Typically, pelvic muscle floor dysfunction also makes it difficult to coordinate the muscles that support the pelvic organs. This inability can cause your muscles to tighten uncontrollably, leading to extreme tension and pain.
While chronic pelvic pain often appears alongside other medical issues, the exact cause of the disease varies. Medical professionals are beginning to recognize that muscles and ligaments in the pelvic floor can be related to several other health issues, including:
- Enlarged spleen
- Inflammation of the small or large intestine
- Kidney stones
- Painful bladder syndrome
The numerous nuances of pelvic pain make diagnosing the disease a challenge. On average, diagnosis takes three to six months.
To establish a formal diagnosis, our physical therapists will carefully assess your precipitating factors and monitor symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Pain
One or more of the following symptoms may be a sign of chronic pelvic floor dysfunction. If you have noticed any of the following symptoms, contact RPT or your healthcare provider.
- Abdominal pain
- Frequent urination or needing to use the bathroom
- Constipation or a straining pain during bowel movements
- Genital pain
- Leaking stool or urine in-between bladder and bowel movements
- Painful urination
- Unexplainable lower back pain
- Pain during sex
- Pain while sitting
In women, chronic pelvic floor pain can also be related to ovaries, including:
- Menstrual cramps or ovulation pain
- Pelvic pain during pregnancy or postpartum
- Ovarian cysts
- Ovarian cancer
Pelvic floor pain in men often coexists with other conditions, such as:
- Erectile Dysfunction (ED): This condition limits a man’s ability to get or maintain an erection. If a man is having pain in the pelvic region, ED may also occur.
- Male Urinary Dysfunction: A urinary dysfunction causes urine to leak after peeing, incontinence or lack of urinary muscle control, and other bowel issues.
- Chronic Prostatitis: Prostatitis is inflammation or infection in the prostate. The causes of the illness include bacteria, sexually transmitted infections, and nervous system trauma.
- Pain with bowel movement
Chronic Pelvic Floor Pain Treatment
The goal of chronic pelvic floor targeted physical therapy is to reduce symptoms and manage pain. The management of chronic pelvic pain requires a team approach.
Some patients benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy and hormone replacement. Others require more invasive chronic pelvic pain treatments like spinal cord stimulation or hysterectomy. These treatments would be carried out by a physician.
Your women’s health physical therapy specialist will recommend a treatment plan depending on your symptoms. Non-surgical treatments may include various methods, such as:
- Biofeedback: One of the most common chronic pelvic floor pain treatments, Biofeedback is non-invasive therapy performed by a physical therapist. The treatment includes attaching special sensors to your body to monitor pelvic floor muscles as you tighten and relax them. Using this technology, your physical therapist will determine which muscles require further treatment.
- Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy: Physical therapy commonly includes several strengthening exercises, as well as stretching exercises. These therapies will help you develop coping strategies to improve chronic pelvic pain. Your therapist may use transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to deliver electrical impulses to nearby nerve pathways to relieve pelvic pain.
- Psychotherapy: Chronic pelvic floor pain may result from trauma or mental illness, such as depression, sexual abuse, personality disorder, family troubles, or crisis. Regardless of the underlying cause of your chronic pelvic pain, psychotherapy can help you develop strategies for coping with the pain. Your medical professional may suggest meeting with a psychologist or psychiatrist for further treatment.
- Medications: Your physician may also prescribe medication to reduce your symptoms. These medications may help regulate your bowel movements to relieve chronic pain. Some of these medications are available over-the-counter at the drugstore and include generic stool softeners.
Treat Your Chronic Pelvic Floor Pain at RPT
Let pelvic floor physical therapy help you manage your chronic pelvic muscle pain and dysfunction. Our experienced women’s health therapists can work with you to strengthen or stretch your pelvic floor muscles, as well as better control your bowel/bladder. For over 50 years, our team of women’s health therapy specialists has been serving patients throughout Utah.
We develop personalized treatment plans to relieve symptoms and help you feel your best. Our women’s health physical therapy includes a series of exercises and physical therapies to help with chronic pelvic pain symptoms.
On your first visit, you will meet with one of our specially-trained therapists. We will listen to your concerns, learn your medical history, and conduct a full body examination. After fully understanding your pain symptoms, we will ensure an accurate diagnosis.
You can trust RPT to give you the treatment and therapy you need to manage your pain and feel your best. No matter what you need, our team will treat you like you are our number one priority because you are. Contact RPT to learn how to treat your pelvic floor pain.