Pain is a good thing. It might not seem like it all the time–when we accidentally hit our thumb instead of the nail with a hammer, or when we bump our head against an unexpectedly low edge–but it is a helpful mechanism. Pain tells our body that we have tissue damage somewhere, therefore cueing us to take care of ourselves, either by resting, protecting, or rubbing the injured area. It is our body’s alarm system, making sure we don’t allow serious danger to happen without a reaction. However, if pain carries on for longer than a few weeks,  it becomes chronic pain, which reacts differently. Now instead of a helpful alarm system, it is an overly sensitive alarm. In the pain acting as a house alarm analogy, the alarm now goes off when a leaf blows across the lawn rather than only when an intruder tries to invade.

Pelvic pain is also different than other kinds of physical pain. For example, when you hurt your thumb with that hammer, you can show your thumb to your friends–they will look at it, you can all agree that it was a painful experience, and everyone can identify that it was your thumb that was hurt. When your pelvis hurts, you can’t necessarily show the hurting part of your body to your friends. Many times, people don’t have the proper words to describe the part of the body that is hurting. There can also be some embarrassment and concern over talking about your body hurting in such a personal area. This makes it difficult for the brain to understand what pain is going on, and can contribute to that over-sensitive alarm system.

Pelvic pain treatment has many factors in order to be the most successful.  Many things you can do at home, such as gentle aerobic exercise, deep breathing and relaxation, sufficient sleep for restoration. However, for many the road to recovery requires the help of a trained pelvic floor therapist for hands on treatments, exercise prescription, scar tissue management, and postural re-education.

If you are experiencing pelvic pain, especially if it has been something you have lived with for 3 months or more, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about whether or not pelvic floor therapy is right for you.

By Catherine (Kait) White, PT, DPT

Sources Cited:   Why Pelvic Pain Hurts: Neuroscience Education for Patients with Pelvic Pain.         Louw, Adriaan; Hilton, Sandra; Vandyken, Carolyn. 2014, International Spine and Pain Institute (USA)