Pelvic Pain Treatment
What Causes Pelvic Pain?
Pelvic pain is any discomfort felt between the belly button and the top of the legs. Pelvic pain causes and conditions are many and varied, and can depend on whether you are a man or a woman. Pain in the pelvis can result from anything from a digestive issue to appendicitis, depression, or a problem in the reproductive system. For this reason, prompt medical attention is important to properly diagnose and treat severe or ongoing pelvic pain.
Reproductive System Causes of Pelvic Pain in Women
Some women feel mild to moderate pelvic pain each month during ovulation. Known as mittelschmerz (German for “middle pain”), ovulation discomfort is often felt as a sharp twinge or ache. Usually occurring low in the pelvis on one side or the other, mittelschmerz ordinarily does not signify a problem.
Similarly, pelvic cramps are common at the onset of a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, and typically do not point to a problem, unless cramping is severe, as in the case of endometriosis. This chronic condition results from uterine tissue that has developed outside the uterus and requires professional diagnosis and treatment.
Other types of pain originating from the reproductive system can also indicate a serious problem. An ectopic pregnancy—when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus—is a life-threatening condition that can cause sharp pelvic pain or cramping, usually on one side, along with nausea, dizziness, and vaginal bleeding. Prompt medical attention is important when an ectopic pregnancy has occurred.
Ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids are both relatively common, usually harmless and often resolve on their own, without pain. Ovarian cysts, however, can cause pelvic pressure or even sharp pain, especially if they happen to twist or burst, and must be diagnosed by ultrasound. Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow within or on the uterus wall and are common among women in their 30s and 40s. These growths normally don’t cause problems, but can cause pelvic pressure or pain during sexual intercourse.
More common among women as they age, pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when the uterus, bladder, or rectum slips downward in the body due to weakened ligaments and tissues. POP usually does not cause intense pelvic pain, but can cause pelvic pressure and discomfort, particularly during sexual activity.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can cause pelvic pain, along with unusual discharge and other symptoms. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a possible STD complication. This condition is a uterine infection caused by germs, often from gonorrhea or chlamydia, that have traveled from the vagina into the womb. PID causes a dull pain in the stomach, pelvis or upper right abdomen, which can make it difficult to distinguish from other pelvic or abdominal pain causes. PID and STDs require diagnosis and treatment by a medical professional.
Kidney Stones, Urinary Tract Infections and Interstitial Cystitis
Kidney stones are caused by hard mineral deposits in the kidneys that form into small, sharp crystals, which must be passed through urination. Passing a kidney stone is typically a very painful process that can take hours or days. Sharp waves of pain are felt through the flanks, sides, and pelvis, and are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Kidney stones are a potentially critical condition that requires diagnosis by a medical professional.
If you feel a frequent urge to urinate, you experience pain when you do urinate or your bladder still feels full after urination, you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs occur when bacteria lodges in the urinary tract, and prompt treatment can keep these infections from becoming more serious. Not only are UTIs typically quite uncomfortable, if left untreated, they can develop into a kidney infection.
UTI symptoms are similar to those of interstitial cystitis (IC), a condition related to bladder inflammation that is common among women in their 30s and 40s. Along with frequency and pain during urination, IC can cause lower pelvic pain, especially during sexual intercourse.
Appendicitis is another potentially serious cause of pelvic pain that requires prompt medical attention. Appendicitis causes pain in the lower right part of the abdomen and can range from dull to sharp. If pelvic pain is felt on the lower right side and is accompanied by fever, nausea, or vomiting, seek medical attention right away. Appendicitis is rare in children under two years old, and is most common in people between the ages of 10 and 30.
Other Pelvic Pain Causes
Pelvic pain causes can be mysterious. Even depression can lead to pain in the pelvis, as can irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive problems. If you experience pelvic pain, whether dull, sharp, intermittent, chronic, or acute, compassionate assessment by the medical professionals at Balcones Pain Consultants can help you determine the right course of treatment for better health.
How is Pelvic Pain Treated?
When seeking treatment for pelvic pain, it is important to note not only the location of your pain but also specific symptoms such as triggering factors and whether your pain is dull, sharp, intermittent, chronic, or acute. This information will help your compassionate care provider at Balcones Pain Consultants determine the underlying condition causing your pelvic pain and inform an effective plan for treatment. Treatments for pelvic pain might include oral or topical medications, physical therapy, counseling, superficial muscle injections, spinal cord stimulation, nerve blocks, or surgery.
Treating Pelvic Pain Due to Illnesses and Other Conditions of the Reproductive System
Illnesses and other conditions of the reproductive system are some of the most common causes of pelvic pain. Pelvic pain due to endometriosis can be treated with pain medications and supplemental hormone therapy. Ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids may resolve over time on their own, but when they do cause pelvic pain and discomfort, they can be treated with pain medications or surgical removal.
Pelvic pressure and discomfort due to pelvic organ prolapse (POP) can be treated with special physical therapy exercises designed to strengthen and tone the pelvic floor. Lifestyle changes, including proper diet and weight management to reduce pelvic floor pressure, can also help relieve pelvic pain and discomfort from POP. Biofeedback can also play an important role in POP pain treatment. Some people find relief from using a pessary, a removable device inserted into the vagina to provide internal support. In some cases, surgery can resolve the prolapse, thereby relieving pelvic discomfort.
Treating pelvic pain from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gonorrhea and chlamydia generally involves antiviral or antibiotic medications. When diagnosed early, pelvic pain from pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a possible STD complication, can be treated with antibiotics. In rare cases, when severe PID has led to an abscess, surgery may be required.
Treating Pelvic Pain from Kidney Stones, Urinary Tract Infections, and Interstitial Cystitis
Treatment for pelvic pain from kidney stones involves pain medication and muscle relaxants along with dietary and lifestyle changes. Eliminating certain trigger foods and ingredients from the diet while introducing others can prevent kidney stones from developing in the future. In some cases, when a kidney stone is too large to pass or is interfering with normal kidney function, surgery may be required.
Treating pelvic pain due to a urinary tract infection (UTI) involves pain medications and antibiotics. In the case of chronic UTIs, long-term, low-dose antibiotics may be prescribed along with vaginal estrogen therapy and lifestyle changes. Treatment for interstitial cystitis might include oral medications such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), antihistamines, or antidepressants. Other treatment options include physical therapy, sacral nerve stimulation and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation to reduce pain and increase blood flow to the bladder.
Treating Other Pelvic Pain Conditions
Pelvic pain from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be treated successfully with biofeedback as well as dietary changes designed to address the underlying problem. Some people find relief in following a gluten-free or lower-carb diet or eliminating high-gas foods. Stress management also plays an important role in treating IBS symptoms, so counseling, yoga, meditation, and exercise can all play important roles in the treatment of this condition. Certain antibiotic, anticholinergic and antispasmodic medications can also help relieve bowel pain from IBS.
Pelvic pain can be mysterious and therefore difficult to diagnose. Even emotional conditions like stress and depression are thought to play a role in some cases of pelvic pain. Your provider at Balcones Pain Consultants will conduct a careful and thorough review of all symptoms and other factors, in order to determine your individual treatment plan.
Advanced Treatments for Pelvic Pain Management
Severe or chronic pelvic pain which does not respond to other treatments, or which significantly impacts your life or activity level, may be treated with more advanced methods. It’s important to let your healthcare provider at Balcones Pain Consultants know about all your symptoms, so that we can help you to return to living life as smoothly and quickly as possible. We will be happy to answer any questions you have about the many treatment options available, including: