Chronic Pelvic Pain
Chronic pelvic pain is a complex condition of pain which has been present for more than 6 months’ duration. Pain can be felt within the pelvic floor muscles, at the entrance to the vagina, in the rectum, penis, testicles, pelvis or abdomen and can cause continual pain and/or pain during sexual intercourse. The cause of chronic pelvic pain is not always known but the following conditions can lead to chronic pain:
- Pudendal Neuralgia – nerve compression of the pudendal nerve causing pain especially when sitting.
- Vulvodynia – persistent unexplained pain in the skin surrounding the vagina (the vulva).
- Vaginismus – involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor muscles causing pain with, or an inability to have intercourse.
- Interstitial Cystitis (IC) (Painful bladder syndrome) – a chronic inflammation of the bladder wall which can cause pain in the vagina, urethra or abdomen and symptoms can include urgency and frequent need to pass urine.
The pelvic floor muscles can be tight or overactive and this is often seen with patients presenting with chronic pelvic pain. Treatment is aimed at releasing these muscles by a variety of treatment techniques including manual therapy to the pelvic floor (stretching/lengthening/restoring function), breathing/relaxation strategies and specific strengthening exercises, advice and management to improve function and quality of life.