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Common Causes of Pelvic Pain


woman with pelvic pain

Pelvic pain can be a distressing and uncomfortable experience, affecting both men and women. It can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, and its causes can vary. In this blog post, we will explore the common causes of pelvic pain, shed light on the importance of seeking appropriate care, and highlight how physical therapy can help you find relief and regain control of your life.


pelvic floor model with a pelvis, spine and pelvic floor muscles

Pelvic Anatomy


The pelvis is a remarkable part of the body that houses several essential structures, including the reproductive organs, bladder, rectum, and pelvic floor muscles. Understanding the anatomy of the pelvis can provide valuable insights into the common causes of pelvic pain.

  1. Reproductive Organs: The pelvis is home to various reproductive organs, such as the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes in women, and the prostate gland in men. Issues related to these organs, such as menstrual cramps, ovarian cysts, or uterine fibroids, can contribute to pelvic pain.

  2. Bladder: The bladder, responsible for storing urine, is also located in the pelvic region. Conditions like urinary tract infections (UTIs), interstitial cystitis, or bladder spasms can cause pelvic pain by affecting the bladder's function and causing discomfort.

  3. Rectum: The rectum, the final part of the digestive tract, also passes through the pelvis. Conditions such as constipation, hemorrhoids, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can cause pelvic pain due to their impact on the rectum and surrounding tissues.

  4. Pelvic Floor Muscles: The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that support the pelvic organs and play a vital role in bladder and bowel control. Dysfunction or imbalances in these muscles can lead to pelvic pain and contribute to conditions like pelvic floor muscle spasms or pelvic organ prolapse.

Understanding the intricate structures within the pelvis helps shed light on the potential causes of pelvic pain. It's important to remember that each individual's experience is unique, and a comprehensive evaluation by a skilled physical therapist specializing in pelvic health can provide valuable insights and guide appropriate treatment.


Common Causes of Pelvic Pain


1. Musculoskeletal Issues

Musculoskeletal problems, such as muscle strains, joint dysfunction, or tension in the pelvic floor muscles, can contribute to pelvic pain. These issues may arise from trauma, poor posture, muscle imbalances, or repetitive movements. Physical therapy can help identify and address these musculoskeletal factors through specialized exercises, manual therapy, and education.


2. Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

The pelvic floor consists of a group of muscles that support the pelvic organs and play a crucial role in bladder and bowel control. Dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles, such as tightness or weakness, can cause pelvic pain. Physical therapy offers targeted techniques, including pelvic floor exercises, biofeedback, and manual therapy, to help restore the balance and function of these muscles.


3. Gynecological Conditions

Certain gynecological conditions, such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, or uterine fibroids, can result in pelvic pain. These conditions may require medical management; however, physical therapy can complement the treatment by addressing any associated musculoskeletal issues, improving overall pelvic floor function, and providing pain management strategies.


4. Digestive Disorders

Disorders affecting the digestive system, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or constipation, can cause pelvic pain. Physical therapy can help identify and address any contributing factors related to the musculoskeletal system, as well as provide education on proper bowel habits and pelvic floor relaxation techniques to alleviate pain and improve bowel function.


5. Urinary Conditions

Certain urinary conditions, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), interstitial cystitis, or bladder spasms, can result in pelvic pain. Physical therapy can assist in managing pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, which may contribute to urinary symptoms. By addressing musculoskeletal imbalances and providing behavioral and lifestyle modifications, physical therapy can help alleviate pain and improve bladder function.


Seeking Relief with Physical Therapy


Physical therapy plays a vital role in the management of pelvic pain by addressing the underlying causes and providing individualized treatment. A physical therapist specialized in pelvic health can conduct a comprehensive evaluation to identify the contributing factors and develop a personalized treatment plan.


Physical therapy interventions for pelvic pain may include:


- Pelvic floor exercises to strengthen or relax the pelvic floor muscles.

- Manual therapy techniques to address musculoskeletal issues and promote tissue relaxation.

- Education on proper body mechanics, posture, and lifestyle modifications.

- Behavioral and relaxation techniques to manage pain and reduce stress.

- Biofeedback to enhance awareness and control of pelvic floor muscles.


By working with a physical therapist, you can gain a better understanding of your pelvic pain and develop effective strategies for pain management, functional improvement, and overall well-being.


Pelvic pain can significantly impact your quality of life, but you don't have to suffer in silence. It's crucial to seek appropriate care and explore the benefits of physical therapy in managing pelvic pain. Remember, every individual's experience is unique, and a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified physical therapist is essential for effective treatment.


Don't let pelvic pain hold you back from enjoying life to the fullest. Take the first step towards relief and consult with a skilled physical therapist, like those at Nashville Physical Therapy & Performance, who can provide the expertise, support, and personalized care you need to overcome pelvic pain and regain control of your health and well-being.


Sandy (Franklin and West Nashville) and Sara (East Nashville and South Nashville) both treat pelvic floor conditions at Nashville PT.


References

1. Fitzgerald MP, Anderson RU, Potts J, et al. Randomized multicenter feasibility trial of myofascial physical therapy for the treatment of urological chronic pelvic pain syndromes. J Urol. 2013;189(1 Suppl):S75-S85.

2. Sawyer T, Rudberg E, Gustafson K, et al. Female chronic pelvic pain: Evaluation and management. Am Fam Physician. 2018;97(12):789-797.

3. Stuge B, Veierod MB, Laerum E, et al. The efficacy of a treatment program focusing on specific stabilizing exercises for pelvic girdle pain after pregnancy: A randomized controlled trial. Spine. 2004;29(4):351-359.

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