Pelvic Pain

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What is it?

Pelvic pain occurs mainly in the lower abdomen and can affect both women and men.

The entire upper body rests on the pelvis. Stresses are radiated through the vertebral column, the abdominal musculature, and the abdominal organs. For this reason, pelvic pain can be difficult to diagnose.

Pelvic pain that persists for three months or more is considered chronic, while less than this duration is considered acute.

Chronic pelvic pain can be intermittent or constant. Intermittent chronic pelvic pain usually has a specific cause (menstrual cramps are a common example) while constant pelvic pain may be the result of more than one problem.

Acute pain is most common. It is often experienced by patients after surgery or other soft tissue traumas. It tends to be immediate, severe and short lived. However, pain that extends beyond a normal recovery period and lasts longer then 3–6 months constitutes chronic pain.

Pelvic pain can radiate down the inner thighs and is often mistaken for leg pain. 


What causes it?

If you are a woman, pelvic pain can be a sign that there is a problem with one of the organs in your pelvic area, such as the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix or vagina. It could also be a symptom of infection, or a problem with the urinary tract, lower intestines, rectum, muscle or bone.

If you're a man, the cause is often a problem with the prostate.

There are many different conditions can cause pelvic pain including:

  • Exaggerated bladder

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Gynecologic (including dysmenorrheal, mullerian abnormalities, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, ovarian torsion).

  • Endometriosis – a build-up of uterine tissues throughout the pelvis

  • Uterine pain sensitivity (also known as visceral pain)

  • Abdominal (including loin pain hematuria syndrome, proctitis, colitis, appendicitis)

  • Fibromyalgia

Pelvic pain can also be caused by an infection or inflammation.


Common treatments

The treatment depends on the cause, how bad the pain is and how often it occurs.

The type of treatment you receive will depend on the diagnosis.

Treatments can vary from medications for urinary tract infections (UTI) or vaginal infections to pharmacologic treatment in the hospital for serious infections such as PID. If a sexually transmitted disease is diagnosed, your partner will also need to be treated to prevent re-infection.

Menstrual cramps can often be relieved with drugs that reduce inflammation.

Antidepressants are sometimes used to help break the cycle of pain and depression that often occurs in women with chronic pelvic pain.

Surgery may be required for certain types of pelvic pain, depending on the diagnosis.

Other treatments include:

  • Heat therapy

  • Hormone treatment

  • Muscle relaxants

  • Nerve blocks

  • Pain management medications

  • Physical therapy

  • Relaxation exercises

  • Trigger point injections

Maintaining an open working relationship with you physician is the best way to find the treatment that works best for you.

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About Pain does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment