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By Dr. Brooke Meinema, DPT, FAFS
Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) is pain in the pelvis lasting longer than 6 months. 1 in 7 females experiences chronic pelvic pain. It can be caused by other conditions or an issue all its own, which can make diagnosis and treatment difficult. If the pain is a result of another medical condition, treating the initial condition may be enough to resolve the symptoms of CPP. The impacts of CPP are not only physical but also impact mental health as well as the ability to complete regular activities. For example, 15% of those with chronic pelvic pain reported lost time from pain work, and 45% reported reduced productivity at work.
Symptoms associated with CPP will vary from person to person. Some may experience constant, steady pain while others will have pain that is intermittent (comes and goes). You may have sharp pains and cramping at times, other times may feel like more of a dull ache. There may be pain with intercourse, sitting, using the bathroom (during bowel movements or urination), lifting/exercise, or with other hobbies and tasks. Keeping track of the symptoms you experience and relaying them to your medical providers can help to develop a better plan for treatment and care.
Treatments for CPP will vary depending on the cause. If your pain is triggered by a medical condition, getting treatment for this condition may be enough to clear up the symptoms you are experiencing. If not, your provider may recommend different medications (pain relievers, hormones, antibiotics, etc.), psychotherapy, trigger point injections, or physical therapy.
What can physical therapy do?
No matter the cause of pelvic pain, our bodies often will have similar responses. Many females with pelvic pain experience tension and guarding within the pelvic floor leading to increased discomfort. Working to reduce the tension, desensitizing the tissues within the pelvis, addressing breathing and other musculoskeletal issues, and working on relaxation techniques can be a great help for many people dealing with pelvic pain. Our goal is to not only work on reducing the symptoms within our sessions but also give our patients tools to address their pelvic pain on their own to help them be independent in their own relief and give them a sense of control over their bodies. If you have been struggling with chronic pelvic pain, reach out! We’d love to talk with you about different options and treatment approaches we could take to help you along your journey.
Request a free consultation with one of our pelvic floor specialists by calling 616.847.1280.