FAQs of Pelvic Pain
What defines pelvic pain?
Pain in the lower portion of the abdomen or pelvis is defined as pain in the pelvis. Chronic pelvic pain is discomfort in this region that lasts for six months or more. The pain may present itself and then disappear, but at times may be constant.
Chronic pelvic pain is more common in women than in men and can sometimes follow the menstrual cycle, showing up at particular times each month and then subsiding (ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins–Gynecology, Obstet Gynecol, 2004). Pelvic pain may also occur only at particular times, such as just prior to eating, after eating, during sexual intercourse or while urinating.
What are the primary causes of pelvic pain?
As previously stated, in women the primary cause of pelvic pain that is chronic in nature may stem from a variety of conditions; however, the relationship between the pain and reproductive organs is more common than other reasons. While chronic pain may be related to the reproductive organs, other cases may not be. Chronic pain may be related to the urinary tract or bowel. There may also be a combination of causes for the chronic pain, and in some cases, no cause may be determined.
Depending on the source of the pain, the condition may be mild to severe. The number of sufferers, especially women is significant. Approximately 15 percent of all childbearing aged women within the United States report having some level of pelvic pain that lasts for at least six months. Among these reported cases, 15 percent of them indicated that the pain was severe enough to cause them to miss work (Mathias, S. D., Kuppermann, et al, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1996).
Pelvic pain that is caused by the reproductive system may include the following:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Fibroids on uterus
- Ovulation cancer
- Ovulation pain
- Ovarian cysts
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
Other causes of pelvic pain that may be found in both men and women may include:
- Chronic constipation
- Colon cancer
- Crohn’s disease
- Herniated disc
- Kidney stones
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
When should you see a doctor for pelvic pain?
If the pelvic pain is abrupt and severe, with sudden onset of pain, you should see your doctor immediately. If the pain is chronic, lasting weeks or months, or if it disrupts your daily routine and activities, you should seek medical attention at a Las Vegas Pain Management Clinic. Also, if the pain is gradual but you have noticed it worsening over time, you should see your doctor as well.
How is pelvic pain diagnosed?
There are a variety of methods used to diagnose pelvic pain, but first your doctor will gather a complete medical history. Blood work will probably be obtained. After the history is compiled, a physical examination will be conducted, which will include a pelvic exam. Imaging tests may also be used to determine the location of the pain, which may include x-rays, an ultrasound, or a CT scan.
Specialists may also be involved in the pelvic pain diagnosis, especially if your doctor suspects the pain is generated from urinary issues, digestive problems, or reproductive organs. You may need to have a procedure performed such as a colonoscopy, cystoscopy, or laparoscopy depending on the symptoms.
What methods of treatment are available to relieve pelvic pain?
When the pain is chronic, relief is necessary to allow a patient to resume normal activities and experience a quality of life that is deserved. No one should live with constant pain and agony due to pelvic issues. There are a number of Pain Relief methods for the treatment of this condition.
The most common methods used to treat pelvic pain include medications, lifestyle changes, therapy and surgery.
- Home modifications – Improvements to posture, stretching and daily exercise may help reduce the symptoms of pelvic pain. Lifestyle changes can be made at home and also include nutritional adjustments, known as nutrition therapy. Aside from dietary changes, which your doctor will discuss with you, implementing the consumption of certain vitamins may help relieve pain. Vitamin B and magnesium have been linked to aid in the relief of menstrual cramps.
- Medications for pain relief – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are helpful in reducing pelvic pain. These drugs are especially beneficial in reducing symptoms of pain associated with dysmenorrhea. Short term opiates may be necessary. With long term, the risks start to outweigh the benefits. If the pelvic pain is due to a reproductive female system issue, hormonal treatment may be indicated.
- Physical therapy – Therapy may consist of a combination of techniques, including nerve stimulation therapy, physical therapy and even acupressure/acupuncture. Relaxation exercises are often taught so that the patient does not tense up and promote more pain. Physical therapy is designed to ease trigger points and allow muscles to relax.
- Interventional Pain Treatments – One excellent treatment for chronic pelvic pain is a superior hypogastric plexus block. This injection typically provides a 50% decrease in pain and a 40% decrease in opiate needs that lasts about a month (Schmidt et al, Rev Bras Anestesiol 2005). The overall success rate is about 70%. An additional treatment that is being studied is spinal cord stimulation for recalcitrant pelvic pain. Small studies have shown excellent results (Tamimi, Neuromodulation, 2008).
- Surgical procedure – When pelvic pain does not respond to conservative treatment and therapy, surgery may be the only form of relief. Severing nerves prevents signals of pain from reaching organs and tissues. Ilioinguinal nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulator treatments and superior hypograstic plexus blocks may offer a higher success rate if surgery is not an option. Unfortunately, there is a high rate (approximately 30%) of women who enter the Pain Clinic that have already undergone a hysterectomy.
If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic pelvic pain and would like to obtain relief, let the Nevada Pain Network help you. The Network connects those in pain with pain management Las Vegas trusts. Simply complete the contact form or call (702) 323-0553 today!