Pelvic Pain: How Physical Therapy Helps

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

When it comes to chronic pelvic pain, many patients unfortunately end up seeing 5, 6, 10+ doctors trying to find answers to why they have pain. Patients may see various specialists and can go through a slew of tests like blood work, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs, exploratory surgery, and multiple rounds of medications like antibiotics and pain medications with no resolution of their symptoms.

Now, here is WHERE WE STEP IN! The pain in the pelvis may be due to musculoskeletal or neuromuscular involvement. Physical therapists are movement experts that specialize in assessing and treating these systems. Pelvic floor physical therapists are movement experts that focus on treating anywhere between the ribs and knees. At RVA Holistic PT, however, we look at the ENTIRE body because dysfunction in one part of the body can contribute to dysfunction in another part of the body. For example, a spring ligament tear (that’s a tear of a ligament in the foot) can affect a person’s walking pattern and movement through the hip ultimately causing muscle and joints to work differently from one side of their body to the other. Over time, this can cause dysfunction and abnormal load/strain through muscle, fascia, and nerves leading to pain. In this case, we would not only treat the hip and pelvic floor muscles, but we may also need to address the foot to improve gait mechanics and overall body function.

There is a strong link between chronic pelvic pain and sleep problems. Not sleeping well increases the chance of pain and the sensitivity to pain. Pain can also effect quality and length of sleep. Poor sleep is also found in those with depression and anxiety and these mood disorders are more common with those that have chronic pelvic pain. Negative mood can increase the effect of poor sleep on pain. Round and round the cycle goes. Improving your sleep patterns can help break this cycle.

Chronic pelvic pain could look like any of these following symptoms:

  • Pain can vary from mild to severe

  • May be constant or intermittent

  • Could be dull, sharp, and/or radiate

  • Might be located in the tailbone, pelvic floor, genitals, groin, hip, and/or lower abdominals

  • Might see a pattern of pain with certain activities or positions

  • Sexual activity may cause or increase the pain

  • Urination or bowel movements may be painful

What Can Physical Therapists do to help pain? A lot.

We complete a comprehensive orthopedic and manual examination of the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular system. Then, we treat what dysfunctions and impairments we see.

Treatment Techniques We May Use

Postural Correction

Corrective Breathing Training

Movement Dysfunction Correction

Joint Mobilization

Fascial Mobilization

Visceral Mobilization

Soft Tissue Mobilization

Therapeutic Exercise Training Specific for the Patient

Neuro Re-education/Down Training the Nervous System

Laser Therapy

Dry Needling

Taping Techniques

Diet/Nutrition Education

We work closely with the patient to come up with an individualized treatment plan focused on reaching their specific goals. If you are in the Richmond area and would like an integrative approach to treating your pelvic pain, you can book with us for a clinic visit.