A headache in the pelvis.
That’s how someone once described pelvic pain, which can be a problem for men and women. Since May is Pelvic Awareness Month, now is as good a time as any to take a look at how the right kind of physical therapy can help alleviate the pain.
“It occurs more commonly in females,” according to Dr. Karyn Staples, PT, PhD, of ProHealth Physical Therapy in Peachtree City. “Many times it is related to a vaginal birth, so there is some birth trauma. There can also be some trauma associated with sexual assault.”
The first step in addressing pelvic pain is to make sure all underlying medical issues, such as infection, have been ruled out. Once that has been done, it is time to turn one’s attention to the muscles and nerves that are causing the pain.
Looking again at the headache analogy, just as there are many different things that can cause pain in the head, the same is true for the pelvis. Because of the part of the body that is involved, it can at times be difficult to talk about.
“People think, ‘Oh, it’s my private area. I shouldn’t really talk to anybody about it,’” said Staples. “But you shouldn’t have pain in that part of your body.”
That pain can affect a man when driving to work, sitting at his desk, and even enjoying a meal with his family. Many times someone will choose to stand at work until fatigue sets in or take a cushion when going to a restaurant.
A male patient went to ProHealth looking for relief from seven years of pain in his tailbone that prevented him from sitting in one position for any length of time. It was initially caused by prostate issues which would flare up and cause more pelvic pain, then ease up and leave him with tailbone pain.
It took several visits, but he and his therapist created a management program that utilized stretching, breathing techniques and even a measure of cold therapy to make basic tasks, especially the travel that his work often required, more bearable.
A common problem on the female side was experienced by a recent patient who suffered a tear during a vaginal delivery that led to painful intercourse after the baby was born. This was not a problem in the past, but instead of just waiting it out to see if it would get better on its own, the patient requested and was referred for physical therapy.
It took several weeks of treatment in multiple phases – looking at posture, movement and breathing – to get to the point where she was able to have pain-free intercourse and also get back into a regular fitness program.
She not only was able to get back to normal physical activity with her husband, she was able to get back to normal physical activity in general,” as Staples put it.
Not every physical therapist deals with pelvic pain. There are still relatively few in the south metro Atlanta area, although more physical therapists are showing an interest in it. Staples has been a physical therapist for 25 years, and for 23 of those years she has focused on including pelvic health in her overall practice.
It is also rare for a pelvic therapist to accept insurance, and ProHealth is one of those exceptions.
“Many people who treat pelvic health do so as a cash-based practice and a self-pay,” said Staples. “And the patient could submit it to their own insurance, but ProHealth, we bill the insurance. So that allows me to reach people that may not otherwise be able to do that out of pocket.”
ProHealth Physical Therapy and PIlates Studio is located at 1777 Georgian Park in Peachtree City. For more information or an appointment, phone 770-487-1931 or visit prohealthga.com.