A person is said to be suffering from pelvic pain when they experience discomfort or pain in the lower abdomen that may extend to the lower back, hips, and groin. This condition can be caused by a variety of medical issues and can be chronic or acute. At Suarez Physical Therapy in Las Vegas, we offer a comprehensive approach to treating pelvic pain, helping our patients find relief. Get in touch with us to see how we can help you.
What is Pelvic Pain?
Pelvic pain is a term used to describe any type of pain in the lower abdomen and pelvis area. The pain can vary in intensity and duration and can be a sign of a range of conditions. Pelvic pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, including endometriosis, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cancer, urinary tract infections, and diverticulitis. It can also be caused by infection, trauma, or surgery.
Pelvic pain can be experienced in a variety of ways, including sharp or cramping pains, a dull ache, or a feeling of pressure in the pelvic area. It can be a localized pain, or it can spread to the lower back, stomach, and legs. Pelvic pain can range from mild to severe and can last from a few minutes to several days or longer.
Causes of Pelvic Pain
While it is not always possible to pinpoint the exact cause of pelvic pain, some of the most common causes include:
Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus, known as the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus. This tissue can attach to organs in the pelvic cavity, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or bladder, and can cause pain and inflammation. Endometriosis can also cause irregular bleeding and infertility.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
This is an infection of the reproductive organs, usually caused by sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. Symptoms of PID include pelvic pain, fever, and abnormal vaginal discharge.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
This is a chronic condition that affects the digestive system. Symptoms of IBS can include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
Uterine fibroids are benign growths that can develop in the uterus. They can cause pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, and even infertility.
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form on the ovaries. They can cause pelvic pain, bloating, and pressure in the lower abdomen.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
UTIs are infections of the urinary tract that can cause symptoms such as pain or burning during urination, as well as an increased urge to urinate.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Pelvic floor dysfunction is a condition in which the muscles of the pelvic floor are weakened or damaged, leading to pain and discomfort. Symptoms can include difficulty controlling bladder and bowel movements, as well as pain during intercourse.
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. Symptoms can include abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding.
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
This is a condition in which the veins in the pelvis become enlarged and cause pain. Symptoms can include chronic pelvic pain, as well as pain during intercourse.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
This is a condition in which one or more of the pelvic organs, such as the uterus, bladder, or rectum, drops out of place. It can cause pain, as well as difficulty with urination and bowel movements.
The Common Symptoms of Pelvic Pain
Common pelvic pain symptoms include:
- Dull or sharp pain in the lower abdomen — this type of pain may be constant or come and go, and can worsen with movement or activities such as sexual intercourse.
- Excessive pressure in the lower abdomen — this type of pain may feel like something is pressing down or filling up the abdomen.
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse — this type of pain can be a symptom of a medical condition, such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Pain during urination or bowel movements — this type of pain may be a sign of a urinary tract infection or other infection.
- Pain that radiates to the lower back, hips, or thighs — this type of pain can be a sign of a pelvic floor disorder, musculoskeletal disorder, or other medical condition.
- Severe menstrual cramps — this type of pain can be a symptom of endometriosis or other medical condition.
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting — this type of bleeding can be a sign of a medical condition, such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.
How is Pelvic Pain Diagnosed?
Pelvic pain can be a difficult condition to diagnose due to its wide range of causes and symptoms. However, with the right approach and by consulting your healthcare provider, you can identify the source of your pelvic pain and find a way to manage it. Here are some steps to take to diagnose pelvic pain.
Describe Your Symptoms
The first step in diagnosing pelvic pain is to accurately describe your symptoms. This includes noting the location, type, duration, and severity of the pain. It is important to be as detailed as possible to help your healthcare provider accurately diagnose the cause of your pain.
Your healthcare provider may perform a physical exam to look for any signs of inflammation or infection that could be causing your pelvic pain. During the physical exam, your healthcare provider may ask you to lie down and will look for any signs of tenderness or swelling. They may also use a pelvic exam to check for any abnormalities in the uterus, ovaries, or other organs in the pelvic region.
Imaging tests such as an ultrasound or MRI can be used to look for any underlying conditions that might be causing your pelvic pain. These tests are usually performed to rule out any serious medical conditions such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis, or fibroids.
Your healthcare provider may also order blood tests to check for any infections or other underlying medical conditions that could be causing your pelvic pain. These tests can help to identify any abnormalities that may be contributing to your pelvic pain.
Hormone tests may also be ordered to check for any hormonal imbalances that may be contributing to your pelvic pain. This can include testing for levels of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones.
Once your healthcare provider has identified the source of your pelvic pain, they will suggest the best course of treatment. This can include medications, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, or surgery, depending on the cause of your pain.
Treatment Options for Pelvic Pain
Treatment for pelvic pain depends on the underlying cause, so it is important to talk to your doctor to determine the cause of your pelvic pain and the best course of treatment.
Prescription medications can be used to manage pelvic pain. These medications can include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antispasmodics, and hormones. NSAIDs can help reduce inflammation, while antispasmodics can help relax the muscles of the pelvic floor and reduce pain. Hormone treatments can be used to reduce the amount of hormones in the body, which can help reduce symptoms associated with conditions such as endometriosis and ovarian cysts.
Physical therapy is an effective treatment for pelvic pain. Physical therapists can help teach you how to practice proper posture and body mechanics, which can help reduce pain and increase mobility. They can also teach you breathing and relaxation techniques to help manage pain. Strengthening exercises can also be beneficial in reducing pelvic pain.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat pelvic pain. Depending on the underlying cause, this can include laparoscopic surgery to remove endometriosis lesions, cyst removal, or hysterectomy. Surgery is typically used as a last resort when other treatments have failed.
In addition to traditional treatments, there are also a variety of alternative treatments that can help manage pelvic pain. These can include acupuncture, massage, herbal remedies, and lifestyle changes. While these treatments may be helpful, it is important to speak to your doctor before trying any alternative treatments.
When to See a Physical Therapist for Pelvic Pain
If you’re dealing with pelvic pain, it’s important to know when to see a physical therapist to get the relief you need. Here’s a look at when to see a physical therapist for pelvic pain.
After an Injury
If you’ve recently experienced an injury—such as a fall, car accident, or sports-related injury—that may have caused pelvic pain, it’s a good idea to see a physical therapist right away. A physical therapist can assess the area and provide treatments that can help reduce pain and speed up the healing process.
When Experiencing Chronic Pain
If you’ve been dealing with pelvic pain for an extended period and it has not improved with at-home treatments, it’s time to see a physical therapist. A physical therapist can help diagnose the cause of the pain and create a treatment plan that can help relieve the pain and prevent it from coming back.
If you’ve recently had surgery that involved the pelvic area, it’s important to see a physical therapist as soon as possible. A physical therapist can help with post-surgical rehabilitation and provide treatments that can help reduce pain and swelling and help you get back to your normal activities as quickly as possible.
When Experiencing an Unexplained Pelvic Pain
If you’ve been dealing with pelvic pain and the cause is not immediately clear, it’s important to see a physical therapist. A physical therapist can assess the area, perform tests, and create a treatment plan that can help relieve the pain and get you back to your normal activities.
Types of Physical Therapies That Can Help with Pelvic Pain Relief
Physical therapy can help with pelvic pain relief by providing strategies and techniques to help manage the pain, restore normal movement, and pre