Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 1: Shhh we can’t talk about that!

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 1: Shhh we can’t talk about that!

Do you suffer from:

  • incontinence (urinary or bowel)
  • urinary frequency; urgency
  • bowel or bladder irritation (with or without pain; can feel like a full sensation)
  • pain (electric shock like, shooting, aching, itching or a raw feeling) of your clitoris, vagina, labia (or penis, scrotum), urethra or perineum (space between your vagina [or scrotum] and your anus)
  • Pain around your sit bone(s) when you sit (especially for long periods)
  • Pain during sex (or afterwards)
  • Pain in your buttocks that may often or sometimes travel down your leg and foot (can be one sided or affect both legs).

Did you know that help is available?

In this three-part series, you’ll learn about the key symptoms and causes of pelvic dysfunction, pain and incontinence. We’ll touch on chronic pain and discuss the basis of an effective management and treatment program. We’ll also reveal 7 simple actions to help you take control of your health and improve your individual symptoms of pelvic pain and dysfunction.

This is a difficult and sensitive subject and often not discussed due to its private nature.

It’s important to realise that in many cases there is a lot that can be done to help – there is no need to suffer in silence!

Symptoms can be wide-ranging, and diagnosis can’t be confirmed with just one test. Instead it requires a look into your personal symptoms and a physical assessment of your pelvic structures to identify imbalances of the joints, ligaments and muscles (tightness, weakness etc) and locations where nerves can become irritated and “trapped”.

Symptoms:

Can include (but are not limited to)

  • pain in the buttocks around where you sit (sometimes in the legs and feet too)
  • sharp, electric type shooting pain around or even within the vagina in women and scrotum (or even shaft of the penis) in men
  • pain during (or after) sex
  • bladder or bowel irritation/discomfort/incontinence/frequency/urgency
  • Pain that can refer or radiate to include part of, or even the length of the leg (generally down the outside) and even go down into the bottom of the foot.

Causes:

There is no one cause, and generally multiple factors are involved

  • Pudendal nerve entrapment – including from
    • long periods of cycling
    • excessive physical exercise
    • straining (from heavy lifting or straining on the toilet)
    • stress
    • posture
    • previous pelvic or perineal trauma/injury
  • Musculoskeletal imbalances – including from
    • long periods of cycling
    • excessive physical exercise
    • straining (from heavy lifting or straining on the toilet)
    • stress
    • posture
    • previous pelvic or perineal trauma/injury
  • Neuropathic (nerve related) pain
  • Trauma – including from
    • difficult childbirth
  • gynaecological and/or colorectal surgery or issues (eg internal abdominal adhesions or uterine fibroids and the like)
  • Infection (including skin conditions).

If you’re suffering from any of the above issues, or some sort of dysfunction of the pelvic/lower abdominal area or genital region, it’s likely that an in-depth history and physical assessment plus a multi-pronged treatment approach can be of great assistance. So, talk to a primary health practitioner (pelvic physiotherapist, GP or Osteopath for example) and find out more. If the advice you receive does not seem logical or if you don’t receive the options that help you gain back control, we suggest you try another practitioner, until you get the support you need.

And remember, working with a combination of such practitioners to get an integrated and diverse treatment and home care plan is your best chance of success.

If you would like to chat about your situation, drop us an email, call, or book an appointment with Alexis.

Stay tuned for part 2, where we discuss chronic pain and its complicated nature as well as the basic idea behind effective treatment and management of pelvic pain and dysfunction.

Author: Dr Alexis Weidland(Osteopath)

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