Article: End the silence about chronic pelvic pain syndrome

By Janice Webber, PT, CAFCI (acup.), CST

I decided a short while ago that I would write this short article to help end the silence.

Chronic pain is a term a lot of people have heard of but when it is used in conjunction with the pelvic area, most people are not talking about it at all.

It is a problem that occurs in both women and men. It, like other issues of the pelvis such as urinary incontinence, is a medical problem that needs to be taken seriously by both the person suffering from it and the medical professionals who will be, hopefully, assessing it. Chronic pelvic pain syndrome presents with pain in the lower pelvis that may move towards the back, tailbone, or hips. The whole lower pelvis can be involved with the pain pattern. There can be urinary incontinence issues, sexual dysfunction or too much tightness in the pelvic floor muscles.

Many people with the syndrome believe there is nothing that can be done for them or they may be too embarrassed to talk about it.

The issues can arise from injuries directly done to the pelvis such as a fall on a tailbone, hip or knee. It can also arise from a pelvic floor with has too much muscle tension in it. This can occur with lots of long term, long distance bicycle riding. It can be a long term issue that has occurred after abdominal surgery such as a hysterectomy, hernia repair or an appendectomy. The scar tissue can change the freedom of the surrounding tissue to move and have entrapped a nerve within the scar tissue. For women, the issue may arise after childbirth especially if there was a lot of pelvic floor trauma from a very quick or very long labour.

The thing to remember is that, just like urinary incontinence which is a medical condition that needs proper attention, pelvic pain syndrome is also a medical condition. You may need to have a proper bladder assessment to make sure there is not chronic infection in either the bladder or vagina. For males, making sure there is no bacterial prostatitis present.

If the tests come back negative, you can then see the pelvic floor physiotherapist in your area. There are several within the HRM and around Nova Scotia. Sometimes the information is under women’s health physiotherapy but just a phone call or a check of a website will let you know if a consultation would be appropriate.

The good news is that the condition is treatable and the person with chronic pelvic pain syndrome will learn how to take care of their pelvis through the education and treatment of the condition. You do not need to suffer in silence.

You can reach Janice Webber, PT, CAFCI (acup.), CST, at 902-469-3214, Janice Webber Physiotherapy Services Ltd. She treats chronic pain issues including chronic pelvic pain syndrome. She also has a referral list for other areas of Nova Scotia.

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