People that have Chronic pelvic pain know the suffering it can cause. Chronic pelvic pain can have multiple causes. It can be a symptom of another disease, or it can be a condition in its own right. If chronic pelvic pain is caused by another medical problem, treating that problem may be enough to eliminate the pain. However, in many cases it’s not possible to identify a single cause of chronic pelvic pain. The pain may be mild and annoying, or it may be so severe that you miss work, can’t sleep and can’t exercise.
Symptoms of Chronic Pelvic Pain:
• Severe and steady pain
• Pain that comes and goes (intermittent)
• Dull aching
• Sharp pains or cramping
• Pressure or heaviness deep within your pelvis
• Pain during intercourse
• Pain while having a bowel movement or urinating
• Pain when you sit for long periods of time
Chronic pelvic pain is a complex condition that can have multiple causes. Sometimes, a single disorder may be identified as the cause. In other cases, however, pain may be the result of several medical conditions. For example, a woman might have endometriosis and interstitial cystitis, both of which contribute to chronic pelvic pain. Some causes of chronic pelvic pain include:
• Endometriosis. This is a condition in which tissue from the lining of your womb (uterus) grows outside your uterus.
• Tension in your pelvic floor muscles. Spasms or tension in the pelvic floor muscles can lead to recurring pelvic pain.
• Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease. This can occur if a long-term infection, often sexually transmitted, causes scarring that involves your pelvic organs.
• Ovarian remnant. After surgical removal of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes, a small piece of ovary may accidentally be left inside and later develop painful cysts.
• Fibroids. These noncancerous uterine growths may cause pressure or a feeling of heaviness in your lower abdomen. They rarely cause sharp pain unless they become deprived of a blood supply and begin to die (degenerate).
• Irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome — bloating, constipation or diarrhea — can be a source of pelvic pain and pressure.
• Painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis). This condition is associated with recurring pain in your bladder and a frequent need to urinate. You may experience pelvic pain as your bladder fills, which may improve temporarily after you empty your bladder.
• Pelvic congestion syndrome. Some doctors believe enlarged, varicose-type veins around your uterus and ovaries may result in pelvic pain.
If your doctor can pinpoint a specific cause, treatment will focus on that cause. However, if a cause can’t be identified, treatment will focus on managing your pain and other symptoms. For many women, the optimal approach involves a combination of treatments.
Depending on the cause, your doctor may recommend a number of medications to treat your condition, such as:
• Pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain remedies, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen may provide partial relief from your pelvic pain. Sometimes a prescription pain reliever may be necessary.
• Hormone treatments. Some women find that the days when they have pelvic pain may coincide with hormonal changes that control ovulation and menstruation. When this is the case, birth control pills or other hormonal medications may help relieve pelvic pain.
• Antibiotics. If an infection is the source of your pain, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
• Antidepressants. Some types of antidepressants can be helpful for chronic pain. Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Pamelor) and others, seem to have pain-relieving as well as antidepressant effects. Neurostimulation (spinal cord stimulation). This treatment involves implanting a device that blocks nerve pathways so that the pain signal can’t reach the brain. It may be helpful, depending on the cause of your pelvic pain.
• Trigger point injections. If your doctor finds specific points where you feel pain, you may benefit from having a numbing medicine injected into those painful spots (trigger points). The medicine can block pain and ease discomfort.
Some women never receive an official or specific diagnosis, but doesn’t mean your pain isn’t real and treatable. In that case, the goal of treatment is to reduce your pain and other symptoms and improve your quality of life. Contact Florida Pain Medicine today to speak with our pain specialist.