It's generally estimated that pelvic pain affects 1 in 5 adults in North America across ages and genders, impacting the ability to control bodily functions, engage in exercise, sleep properly and more. Physiotherapy is able to offer a few different treatment and rehabilitation programs for people with chronic pelvic pain. Here, our Manotick physical therapists explain chronic pelvic pain's symptoms and how pelvic physiotherapy can help.
Pelvic pain may range from a mild annoyance to debilitating. Its symptoms may also accompany uncomfortable conditions like severe urinary urgency, prolapses, and incontinence. Not only that, but pelvic pain is itself a symptom of an underlying condition or injury. The root cause of a given case of pelvic pain may be quite difficult to nail down.
The causes of pelvic pain can range from gastrointestinal and gynecological to psychiatric and musculoskeletal. And in every case, social and societal factors may come into play and worsen the condition.
Physiotherapy for Chronic Pelvic Pain
Despite how difficult it can be to narrow down the exact cause of your chronic pelvic pain, our team are able to offer physiotherapy treatments for pelvic pain that can help to address certain aspects of the health issues contributing to your discomfort.
Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation
There is a growing body of literature that suggests pelvic floor dysfunction is directly related to chronic pelvic pain. On top of this, myofascial pain has also been shown to associate with a number of different kinds of chronic pain in the pelvis. This can be treated through a number of different means in the course of pelvic floor physiotherapy.
Some of the treatments offered at our physiotherapy center include:
- Relaxation techniques
- Electrical stimulation
- Specific stretches
- Manual therapy of the pelvic floor muscles
- Myofascial release of trigger points on the pelvic floor
- Exercises targeted at the pelvic floor muscles
While many individuals who report pelvic pain may be prescribed analgesics to help them manage their pain levels, our physical therapists can also offer services, exercises and fitness plans to start you on the road to recovery and alleviating your pain without having to rely entirely on painkillers.
First and foremost, it's important that physiotherapists walk you through some of the social and psychological elements that may be involved in triggering flare-ups. This matters especially when falre-ups occur as a result of sexual activity. One of the first steps to managing the condition is the identify behaviors like catastrophizing, pain-related anxieties and more and create strategies or recommend professional help for patients who experience them.
After that, exercise planning is often the name of the game when it comes to helping to manage flare-ups of pain in patients suffering from chronic pelvic pain. Often, these flare-ups are either caused by overactivity and extended periods of inactivity, so our physical therapists will work with you to identify the right level of activity for your condition and create a plan for consistently being able to meet that level of activity.
What About Kegels?
Kegels are often the first pelvic floor exercise that comes to mind. Guides on how to perform them abound on the internet. If you have chronic pelvic pain, you may be tempted to follow a guide online and begin doing these exercises on your own, but in may instances, kegels may actually be harmful to your condition.
Firstly, there isn't much clear evidence that kegel exercises, when done on their own, can affect chronic pelvic pain. They should be done in conjunction with other stretches, exercises and manual therapies. Secondly, not all pelvic floor pain is caused by weakness in its associated muscles—which is what kegels can help to address.
In fact, some chronic pelvic pain is actually associated with a tightness of the pelvic floor muscles, meaning that kegels may actually cause injury—just like if you tried to workout a tight muscle elsewhere in your body. The key in these cases is exercises that promote relaxation of the tight muscles to alleviate pain and avoid injury.
In any situation, you should consult with your physiotherapist before engaging in any long-term exercise regime while suffering from chronic pelvic pain. They will be able to help you plan your workouts in order to work best for you, regardless of what part of your body will be exercising.