What Is Pelvic Pain?
Table of Contents
Where is the pelvis located?
Pelvic pain is pain that occurs in or around the pelvic area, which is located at the juncture of your spine and leg bones. Many people call this the pelvic bone, but it’s actually made of a few different connected bony sections as shown below.
Pelvic pain may arise from any of those many structures and tissues located in the region of your skeleton. Pelvic pain may be associated with:
- Damage or inflammation to the joints, bones, musculature, or nervous tissue in the area
- Disorders or damage to the genitals or reproductive systems found within or immediately near the pelvic bone
- Disorders or damage to other nearby organ systems, such as the gastrointestinal system or urinary system
- Referred pain from nearby areas, such as the hips or lower back
The exact nature of pelvic pain may be difficult to diagnose accurately, and thus to treat effectively.
What does pelvic pain feel like?
Pelvic pain may be acute or chronic, and experienced as mild, moderate, or severe. You may feel low-level or intensely sharp pain. You may feel it in any part of the pelvic region, depending on the actual tissue, organ, or disorder. Pelvic pain may spread into other nearby body parts, such as the lower back or abdomen.
Pelvic pain is fairly prevalent. Up to 33% of women may experience some form of pelvic pain at any point in their lives. This may often be perceived or categorized as gynecological conditions, but this pain may also be associated with unrelated regions of the pelvis.
Estimates suggest that approximately 4% of women experience chronic pelvic pain. This type of pain is thought to be linked to up to 40% of consultations at gynecological clinics and centers every year.
Pelvic Pain CausesAs noted, there are many different origins of pain in the pelvis area. For example, pelvic pain may be associated with gynecological issues in women. It may also be a result of two or more comorbid (or concurrent and possibly interrelated) conditions that occur in the major multi-organ systems located in or near your pelvis.
The major organ systems near your pelvis include the:
- Gastrointestinal system
- Reproductive system
- Renal or urinary system
Different disorders can affect each of these systems. The gastrointestinal system is susceptible to:
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Cancer or benign growths
- Various types of bowel obstructions
The reproductive system may develop pain related to disorders like:
- Cramping associated with menstruation, or dysmenorrhea
- Uterine fibroids
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Ovarian growths (PCOS)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- A history of genital injury from sexual abuse
The renal or urinary system, as the kidneys or bladder may develop disorders such as:
- Urinary tract infection
- Stone formation
- Painful interstitial cystitis
- Prostate inflammation
In some cases, pelvic pain may be related to other conditions such as fibromyalgia, inguinal hernia, or nerve damage. Chronic pelvic pain may be associated with dysfunction or weakness in the muscles that form the pelvic floor. Acute pelvic pain may be a sign of adverse events such as appendicitis, which may require immediate treatment.
Diagnosing Pelvic PainIf you think you’re suffering from pelvic pain, you’ll want to start with a diagnosis. To do this, your doctor may run a series of different tests in order to determine one (or a small number of) underlying causes.
Your physician will want to know things such as:
- When your pain started, and whether you can trace it back to recent events, such as an injury.
- The location of your pain, such as in the front or posterior portions of the region. This may help your doctor forge a link between a specific organ or tissue type and the pain experienced.
- The frequency, severity, and duration of your pain, as regular recurrences of pain may indicate a disorder.
- Other factors that could be causing your pain. For example, pain that arises from lying or sitting in a particular position may indicate hip joint pain or bone damage.
Beyond this, your doctor will examine you and may run a number of different laboratory tests, such as blood, tissue, or urine. Non-invasive imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT) or ultrasound may also be effective for some conditions.
Pelvic Pain TreatmentsTreatment for pelvic pain may depend on the type of pain you’re experiencing or the related underlying conditions. If you’re suffering, talk to your doctor about how to treat your pain.
Medications for pelvic pain
Mild to moderate pain may benefit from non-invasive treatments such as drug therapy, whereas more severe chronic pain may require clinic-based interventions.
Drugs that may be effective in some cases of pelvic pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are typically recommended for patients in the early stages of arthritis affecting the hip joints or those recovering from injury or other damage. Other drugs that may benefit mild to moderate pain may include antidepressants or anticonvulsants. An example of an anticonvulsant associated with pain relief is gabapentin. This may effectively address the symptoms of nerve damage.
Nerve blocks for pelvic pain
A nerve block is a minimally invasive procedure performed in the clinic to relieve moderate to severe pelvic pain. This is done to inhibit chronic pain signals from major nerves or nerve clusters associated with this region of the body. This includes the celiac plexus.
A celiac plexus nerve block involves using imaging techniques, so that a needle containing local anesthetic medications can be inserted into the vicinity of the celiac plexus. When administered, these drugs can block the nerve’s ability to send signals about painful conditions to the brain.
Spinal cord stimulation
Research indicates the efficacy and long-term results of another procedure called spinal cord stimulation. In this case, spinal nerves responsible for overactive signaling in cases of pelvic pain are identified. A small electrode-like device is implanted in an appropriate location near this nervous tissue.
The device then emits impulses, similar to those used by nerves to conduct information to the brain, which override pain signals and promote signaling more similar to non-pain impulses. This treatment method may deliver long-term relief from chronic pain.
ConclusionIf you’re suffering from pelvic pain, there is help. There is a wide range of factors or disorders that can lead to pelvic pain that differ widely from individual to individual.
Some of the more common pelvic pain causes include inflammatory bowel disease, many forms of cancer, direct injury or damage, or reproductive conditions. Treatments for pelvic pain can vary widely depending on the underlying reason for your pain. By working with a pain doctor, you can get a diagnosis for your pain and learn about treatments that could help. You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.
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