We’ve all had that nagging headache that strikes at 2pm. There was no time to fix your morning brew and the infamous caffeine headache is there to stay. Not a caffeine junkie? Maybe that unforgiving headache is a result of the stack of untouched papers, the computer screen that holds you captive, and the endless phone calls that plague you. Tension headache? Or maybe, it’s the wall to wall meetings with ungrateful corporate clients. Stress headache? These are a few scenarios that may have you shaking your head and saying yes! The classic ‘headache’, right?
Well, here’s a question for you. Have you ever experienced a ‘pelvic headache’? Resemblance of a ‘headache’ but felt in your pelvic area. Maybe you fall into this category versus the classic headache. If so, you are not alone. Pelvic headache, or commonly referred to as pelvic pain in the medical community, is more prevalent than you might think. In fact, with the ongoing medical advancements and increased attention to pelvic pain specifically in the last 20 years, pelvic pain has a place on the map. No longer is it rare to seek medical attention for complications involving your pelvis. There’s a diagnosis for that? Your answer is yes.
Now that you know there is such a thing as pelvic pain and that it’s real, the next question that likely follows is how. How does one get pelvic pain? Pelvic pain affects both men and women, but predominantly the female population. I would almost guess that 90% of you reading this blog right now have a vagina. Did I wake you up with that last line? There are many etiologies or ways of developing pelvic pain, some of which are very well known and rehearsed with some of your female friends over dinner and wine, and then there’s that list that goes untold. Goes untold for years. Swept under the rug to only resurface time and time again. Society plays a big role in this. Many women are taught to believe that female issues are to be hush-hush. The embarrassment for some is too great. For others, the education isn’t there.
Under the microscope, pelvic pain, can be somewhat a mysterious diagnosis. It’s not necessarily textbook. Referral pain is often felt in the abdominals, thigh, and gluteals. Pelvic pain can show up after sexual intercourse. ‘Tight’ hips can also lead to pelvic pain. Scar tissue from an episiotomy or surgical procedure can wreak havoc on the pelvic floor muscles, creating once again pain in the pelvic region. Pelvic pain can even cause poor sitting tolerance. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
This is where physical therapy receives an invite to the pelvic pain ‘going away’ party. Physical therapy provides multiple services to those living with pelvic pain. The tool belt of services might include, Biofeedback for strengthening pelvic floor musculature, maximizing vaginal tissue mobility through use of dilators and manual therapy, pelvic alignment assessments to improve symmetry and stabilization to the pelvis, as well as soft tissue manipulation to calm down and make well those surrounding structures of the pelvis. Where sometimes there is a gap that exists when dealing with pelvic pain, physical therapy can be that bridge to finding wellness.
There is a growing community of pelvic pain survivors and pelvic pain specialists in your area. Like stated before, you are not alone. I wish you well in striving to find your path to pelvic health and wellness.
Andrea received her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Western Kentucky University and then went on to achieve her Physical Therapy Assistant degree from Jefferson Community and Technical College. Her passion has always been with sports and overall wellness which prompted her to seek a nutrition certificate in Dietetics in 2009 from Eastern Kentucky University.
Andrea is a proud 2013 and 2014 Louisville Ironman finisher and continues to compete in triathlons nationwide as well as in road racing. She uses this passion and discipline that she has with sports and applies it to her work in physical therapy. Her career focus has been on orthopedics, sports injury and training protocols, and on Women’s Health diagnoses including pelvic dysfunction and prenatal and postpartum. She is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, the Kentucky Physical Therapy Association, and the International Pelvic Pain Society.
When Andrea needs a break from training the experience of travel is one of her favorite things. You can also often find Andrea in the kitchen exploring new recipes. She attends both St. Leonard Church and Southeast Christian Church.