Pelvic pain is a common condition in many women. The pain may be chronic or acute caused due to various reasons. Females can feel pain in the lower abdomen, low back or anywhere within the area of the pelvis. The pain occurs as a symptom of normal pelvic functions, in pregnancy, or sometimes, as an indicator of issues such as an infection, disorder of the reproductive system or other organs in the area. Pelvic pain that lasts more than 24 hours or is accompanied by other symptoms like fever, chills and bleeding should not be ignored. Such conditions or pelvic pain that occurs regularly may be caused by serious conditions related to enteric, urology or gynaecology that require immediate care from a urology specialist in Chennai.
Pelvic pain in non-pregnancy
There are many causes of both acute and chronic pelvic pain. Acute pelvic pain refers to sudden or new pain whereas chronic pain is long lasting pain. It can be categorised as gynaecological, bladder or bowel related. Some of the gynaecological conditions that can cause pain include:
- Ovulation may develop a sharp pain for few hours in some women on the side of the abdomen when an egg is released from the ovary on that side. This ovulation pain is called “Mittelschmerz” which mean middle pain that occurs during the mid of menstrual cycle.
- Period pain in most women is often mild but, 1 in 10 women experience sever pain called dysmenorrhea that affects day-to-day activities.
- Low back pain can also be a symptom of Premenstrual disorder (PMS) or in severe conditions called premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD).
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is caused by an infection that usually travels up to the uterus from the vagina or cervix. Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis, high temperature (fever), abnormal vaginal bleeding and a vaginal discharge are the common symptoms.
- Rupture or torsion of ovarian cyst in an ovary causes intense pain when the cyst bursts or twists. While most ovarian cysts are benign and cause no symptoms, some cysts may cause pain and irregular bleeding.
- Degenerative changes in a fibroid can rarely outgrow its blood supply, making it shrink that causes severe pain. Otherwise, fibroids can remain symptomless.
- Endometriosis: this is a condition that can be found in 1 out of 5 of women in their thirties. It causes pain around the time of menstrual period and during sexual intercourse.
- Vulval pain, vulvodynia, vaginismus and dyspareunia are also conditions of pain in the vulva or vagina that can be severe specially during sex.
Common bowel or bladder problems that cause pelvic pain are appendicitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), kidney or bladder stones, cystitis, post-surgical adhesions and strangulated hernias.
Pelvic bones, joints and pelvic floor muscles can also cause pain in the pelvis. One such condition is the pelvic floor muscle spasm. On related diagnosis, the urologist in Chennai will refer for a consultation with the physical therapist for exercises to relieve pain.
Pelvic pain in pregnancy
Pelvic pain or discomfort during pregnancy is common and less severe a medical concern. Hormones change, uterus expands with bones and ligaments being stretched as they adjust to the growing demands of the developing foetus. Conditions of pain during pregnancy is termed as pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PGP) or symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). It is anyways advisable to report any pain that may even be mild but disturbing, to be discussed with the urology specialist in Chennai. Pain with vaginal bleeding, pain that does not fade or lasts for a long period of time should not be ignored. Some possible causes of pain that can be a concern during pregnancy are Braxton-Hicks contractions, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, placental abruption and premature labour.
Ways to relieve pelvic pain in pregnancy
Pelvic pain that is normal during pregnancy can be relieved by certain measures and remedies. Pain medications if necessary, may be recommended by the doctor. Resting, gentle movement and light exercise are also beneficial in relieving pain. Similar remedies include:
- Frequent rests.
- Warm soak bath.
- Heating pad on the back or hot water bottle placed on the abdomen to help ease cramps.
- Placing ice pack over inflamed pelvic joints can relieve pain.
- Placing pillows between the knees on side lying while sleeping can be more comfortable.
- Moving more often but slow and smooth within pain limits.
- Elevating the legs can help alleviate pelvic pain, pain in the lower back or thighs.
- Pelvic physiotherapy can strengthen pelvic floor, stomach, back and hip muscles.
- Yoga, prenatal exercises and meditation can also be helpful for pain management.
- Exercising in water can make it feel weightless and prevent injuries while exercising. Aqua Aerobics and swimming laps for expecting mothers are great options to keep fit and pain free.
- Kegel exercises is a good way to keep pelvic floor muscles relaxed..
- Maternity belts for extra support.
- Wearing supportive, flat foot wear and avoiding heels.
- Avoid lifting weights or straining physically.
- Certain herbs used in daily cooking can also help relieve stress and decrease pain.
Treatment for pelvic pain
Early diagnosis is the best possible way to help keep pain to a minimum and avoid long-term discomfort. Chronic pelvic pain is the term used when the pain lasts for at least six months. Chronic pelvic pain is so common that it occurs in around 1 in 6 women. A cause for pelvic pain may or may not be found. If the source can be found, urologist in Chennai will focus treatment on that cause. If there is no specific diagnosis, treatment will focus on managing the pain. A physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic joint problems would be the best person as physiotherapy aims to ease pain, improve muscle function and improve pelvic joint movement for better position and stability. Additional treatment and counselling for psychological support may be required if the emotional impact of living with chronic pain causes considerable distress.