May is pelvic pain awareness month, and pelvic pain is a topic I am asked about so frequently that it bears talking about from a variety of angles. So many women and men live day in and day out with pain in their pelvic region, buttocks, genitals, pubic area, tailbone, groin, bladder, genitals, rectum. It can get in the way of day to day activities like sitting, walking, sleeping, sexual activity, exercising, working, or child care. It can change your mood, your focus, your ability to engage with people you want to (or just need to) spend time with and pay attention to.
Often pelvic pain has a cause that originates from one of the pelvic organs, like the bladder, uterus, or rectum. Along with pain, there can be urinary symptoms like urgency, frequency, or incontinence. Maybe there’s been an injury to the pelvis, hips or spine, a difficult child birth, an infection, or a surgery that was difficult to recover from. But this region is also the center of your movement system. Your lumbar spine (low back), pelvis and hip joints are all in a small central area in your body, and all of your movements day to day flow from this center. There is also a lot of nuanced interaction between the organs and the muscles, bones, joints, nerves, and tissues that connect them all together. All of this can make it tricky to correctly diagnose and treat pain in the area. People with pelvic pain often find that they do not get a complete solution to their problem from the first medical provider (or first several) whom they seek help from.
If this is true for your or someone you care about, please realize that the “musculoskeletal system” or your movement system, needs to be taken into consideration. An especially important and busy set of muscles and nerves called the pelvic floor, often are a major source of why pelvic pain can persist even after a medical problem has been treated in the pelvis. When these muscles have become tight, tense, tender, or weak, they can cause pain anywhere throughout the pelvis, lower abdomen, hips, buttocks, and even beyond. They can also make every day activities uncomfortable or more difficult. This can include anything like walking, sitting, squatting, wearing tight clothing, using the restroom, or having sex.
All of the above is true also for women and men. We all have a pelvic floor, and much of the anatomy is actually more similar than different!
There are so many different causes behind pelvic pain, that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to solving this complex problem. Even so, there are some strategies that can help ease the pain in many cases even with varying origins.
So, whoever you are and whatever your story may be leading up to the pelvic pain that you or your loved one may be experiencing now, please know that you are not alone, and that there is help!
Want to know more about how to get help? Ask your question in the comments below, or schedule a courtesy phone call with us.
Helping health-oriented people overcome pelvic health problems, and live the life you love!
Deborah S. Cohen
Specialist Pelvic Health Physical Therapist