Pelvic pain experienced around the hip and pelvis sometimes has nothing to do with problems in the pelvic area. Problems in the lower back can result in back pain and/or pain through the hips and down into the legs. This is known as sciatica.
This article walks you through the various diseases and conditions that can cause pain in the pelvic region.
Several types of diseases and conditions can cause pain in the pelvic area. Chronic pelvic pain can result from more than one condition.
It can arise from digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or reproductive and urinary system issues, which may also result in abdominal pain. Recently, doctors have recognized that some pelvic pain, particularly chronic pelvic pain, can also arise from muscles and connective tissue (ligaments) in the structures of the pelvic floor.
Pelvic pain might also be caused by irritation of nerves in the pelvis. For treatment of some kinds of pelvic pain, physical therapy may be a good place to start.
Chronic Pelvic Pain
If your pelvic pain is chronic, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or pelvic congestion syndrome may be the cause of pelvic pain. In this case physical therapy will not be effective. This is more likely to be the cause of pelvic pain in women.
Chronic pain can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases. Bacteria can spread from the vagina to the womb (uterus), fallopian tubes, or ovaries. If the infection persists, severe pain and scar tissue may develop.
Several pain relief measures can be used to treat chronic pelvic pain. They include medications, physical therapy, nutritional therapy, and surgery. Further examples include lifestyle changes, such as good posture and regular exercise, pain-relieving drugs like non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and physical therapy, including non-invasive techniques such as acupuncture, acupressure, and nerve stimulation therapies. Physical therapy that eases trigger points may give relief of muscular pain. Some types of physical therapy teach mental techniques for coping with pain. Such types include relaxation exercises and biofeedback.
Nutrition therapy may also be used in the treatment of chronic pelvic pain with the supplementation of vitamin B1 and magnesium, minerals believed to be beneficial in relieving dysmenorrhea (severe and frequent menstrual cramps and pain during your period).
For acute pains of the pelvis, painful sex, unusual pain around your menstrual cycle, and interstitial cystitis (IC), pain relief may include surgery. Pain relief via surgery is achieved by cutting nerves which then blocks pain signals from reaching tissues and organs.
The main symptom for a diagnosis of chronic pelvic pain is pain in the lower abdominal cavity or pelvis that lasts for more than 6 months. However, there are usually other symptoms as well. Understanding your symptoms can help you and your doctor begin to pinpoint the cause or causes of your chronic pain.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP), a type of pelvic floor disorder, can cause pelvic pain in women. In fact, about one-third of all women are affected by prolapse or similar conditions over their lifetime.
Pelvic organ prolapse happens when the muscles and tissues supporting the reproductive organs and the pelvic organs (the uterus, bladder, or rectum) become weak or loose. This allows one or more of the pelvic organs to drop or press into or out of the vagina. Many women are embarrassed to talk to their doctor about their symptoms or think that their symptoms are normal. But pelvic organ prolapse is treatable.
Sometimes, these muscles and tissues develop problems. Some women develop symptoms of pelvic floor disorders following childbirth. A similar disorder, endometriosis, is a painful condition that arises when there is an abnormal growth of tissue that lines the womb, anywhere outside the uterus. And as women age, pelvic prolapse and other pelvic floor disorders become more common.
When pelvic floor disorders develop, one or more of the pelvic organs may stop working properly.
Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection (UTI) may also be the cause of pelvic pain with a burning sensation. Sometimes it can be a sharp pain with urination, leading to painful bladder syndrome. This is caused by an inflammation of the urethral tube. This can result in severe health outcomes if left untreated such as damage to the female reproductive system. This can result in infertility, kidney stones, uterine fibroids, or internal scar tissue.
UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system including your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract, (the bladder and the urethra), and can be the cause of painful bladder syndrome.
Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than are men. Infection limited to your bladder can be painful and serious consequences can occur if a UTI spreads to your kidneys. Proper medical education is necessary to help avoid recurring UTI diagnoses.
Doctors typically treat urinary tract infections with antibiotics. But you can take steps to reduce your chances of getting a UTI in the first place.
Acute Pelvic Pain
Acute pelvic pain is generally defined as pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis lasting less than three months. This can also defined as pelvic pain that comes on suddenly and for the first time.
There are multiple possible causes for this kind of pelvic pain. such as constipation resulting from the lack of a recent bowel movement, an ectopic pregnancy, an ovarian cyst or cysts that have been untreated for long periods, and more.
Acute pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) occurs when a bacterial infection of the womb, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. Less concerning symptoms, such as unusual menstrual cramps or vaginal bleeding that are not the result of a regular menstrual cycle, may also come as a warning sign.
Seek Medical Attention for Chronic Pain
Chronic pain in the pelvic region is defined as persistent pain felt below the umbilicus (belly button). This type of pain can have multiple and common causes. However, it is important to seek treatment from a doctor immediately if you have concerns for your health.
Your health care provider will ask about your medical history, likely followed by a physical exam, including a pelvic exam. Additional tests may also be done to find the cause, such as magnetic resonance imaging. It may be necessary to see other specialists to find out the cause of your pain. This could be a gastroenterologist (a physician who focuses on digestive problems). Additionally it could also be a urogynecologist (a gynecologist specializing in urinary and related problems).
Your qualified doctor with proper medical education may perform a pelvic exam or blood tests. This is done before administering professional medical advice as to pain management or management of other symptoms.
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