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Contributions from Heidi Giroux PT, Holly Mulvaney OTD and Robin McDaniel, PT, DPT at 360 Physical Therapy. 

May is designated as Pelvic Pain Awareness Month by the International Pelvic Pain Society (IPPS). Chronic pelvic pain is defined by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as “noncyclical pain of at least 6 months’ duration. (IPPS 2017)

As Pelvic Floor Therapists, many of our clients come to us seeking relief from pelvic pain. Early referral to pelvic floor therapy can be a cornerstone of management in assisting patients. In a multicenter feasibility study, patients treated with myofascial pelvic pain therapy reported a 57% global response assessment improvement. (Fitzgeral et al., 2011)

Pelvic Pain is generally described by medical providers as pain that appears around the pelvis, anterior abdominal wall, lower back and buttocks. Some of the different symptoms include:

  • Abdomen, hip or back pain
  • Tailbone, pubic symphysis or sacroiliac joint pain
  • Perineal, vaginal, penis, scrotal/testicle, anal pain.
  • Rectal or vaginal pressure
  • Urinary retention, urgency, frequency,
  • Bladder pain (interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome)
  • Pain with tampon insertion, intercourse or gynecologic exams
  • Pain during bowel movements and/or constipation
  • As well as accompanying comorbidities that are frequent including depression, anxiety, sleep dysfunction and relationship issues.

There are several websites that can assist you in gaining information and finding the right provider:

  • Internation Pelvic Pain Society
  • Internation Cystitis Association
  • IC Network
  • Endometriosis Association
  • National Vulvodynia Association
  • American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
  • Herman and Wallace

Books that may be helpful:

  • Heal Pelvic Pain
  • Pelvic Pain Explained
  • Sex without Pain 
  • Pelvic Pain Management

The best plan of action for those with pelvic pain can take, especially during Pelvic Pain Awareness Month, is to mention it to their healthcare provider at your next exam. Silence is the worst treatment.

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