Chronic Pelvic pain is one of the most common diagnoses we see here at Legacy Physical Therapy. We wanted to highlight this diagnosis today and give you more information about how pelvic floor therapy can help.
Pelvic pain is more common in females than males. About 25% of women diagnosed with chronic pelvic pain spend 2-3 days in bed. Can you imagine how disruptive that would be for your life? More than ½ of women who have chronic pelvic pain cut down their daily activities and 90% of women who report chronic pelvic pain also repost pain with intercourse. Chronic pelvic pain impacts not only the physical health well-being but it spreads to impacting their emotional health and their relationships.
Let’s start off with the difference between acute and chronic pain. Acute pain happens when the body is hurt, and we get an immediate response, there is typically an obvious cause for the pain in an acute situation. Chronic pain is very different, sometimes there is not a specific original cause or the original cause has been resolved but the pain persists. If that’s the case, then it’s really hard for people to wrap their brain around why they’re still experiencing pain
As it relates to the pelvis, chronic pelvic pain is a big umbrella term that can describe pain occurring anywhere from the belly button, down to the upper thighs. People may have pain all across this area, or it may be focal just to the vagina or the vulvar area. It may spread out into the buttocks or back around to the tail bones. The pain can be related to one focal area but overtime, as you’re dealing with the pain, it can spread or migrate and change how our body perceives the pain overtime.
Chronic pain can lead to behavioral changes to what you do on a day to day basis to try and cope with it. It may change how much you are able to do, like take care of your kids or participate in your favorite hobbies. It can be a big emotional and psychological toll.
In the medical world, chronic pain is diagnosed after pain has been lasting for more than 6 months. There may be some treatments you have tried, but they haven’t relieved the symptoms or the pain is stronger than what you would expect for the original injury or surgery. If you had surgery, it is not uncommon to experience pain afterwards but the pain should go away within the first couple weeks and the pain should subside over time.
Other changes that may signal development of chronic pain can be changes in ability to sleep, changes in appetite and bowel function with increase in constipation being a sign. Emotionally there may be more depression and anxiety or an overall feeling of dread. It may feel like you are changing your role as a caregiver, wife or employee and that it’s affecting how you’re able to do your job or take care of your family.
We unfortunately often hear from our patients way too often when they are dealing with chronic symptoms, they have been written off by many medical providers saying “Oh, you know, everything looks fine. It’s all in your head. You just need to relax. You just need to calm down.” But, they are not really getting answers to why they’re feeling what they’re feeling.
Here at legacy, we are hear to listen and validate that chronic pain is not at all in your head. We work with women and men dealing with chronic pelvic pain on a day to day basis. Often, pelvic physical therapy is an integral part in helping you to start to feel like you can be active the way that you want to be. You can start to look back at some of the activities that you’ve been missing out on and you can start to live your life in a more pain-free way. Because of that, we want to make sure that we reach out to more people and try and help them. We don’t want people just living with this condition and thinking there’s nothing else to do.
If you feel like you may be experiencing chronic pain, or are not sure, please give us a call and schedule a discovery session with one of our expert physical therapists to start your healing journey.