A little about my history: I started having strange rectal pain with constipation back in 2009. It gradually got so bad that I was taken to the ER on 3 occasions because the pain was just that severe. I have a pretty high pain tolerance but these flare ups were on another level. I couldn't walk, sit, stand or urinate. I didn't know what was wrong other than I had a lot of pain. Pain like someone had a blunt object in my rectum and was pushing against the side of the walls with all their might. The pain radiated around to my groin area and down my leg. I also had pain and pulling in my back during bowel movements. Most times I couldn’t have a bowel movement without a fleet enema but after I went I would be in pain for hours. It was excruciating and I was depressed and feeling hopeless. All the ER doctors wanted to do was do a physical examination (fingers in rectum) but I refused to let them touch me. The pain was so severe I was vomiting and on one occasion almost passed out from the pain. After numerous disappointing doctor visits and several wrong diagnoses, I was told I had Levator Ani Syndrome and put on muscle relaxers and Hydrocodone by a colon rectal surgeon. It didn't help – not to mention all they told me was that my muscles were abnormally tight. But other than that I didn't even know what having Levator Syndrome meant. One day during my web research I ran across a patient who had seen a Urogynecologist. I had never heard of one before but I made an appointment. The was so sympathetic and understanding. He said, "It looks like everyone is telling you what you have but not what to do about it". I felt comfortable with his knowledge and began treatment. The first thing he did was send me to a pelvic floor therapist. Not just a physical therapist that also does pelvic floor therapy but an actual specialist here in Indianapolis. She taught me about pelvic lesions, muscle spasms, IC and what causes them all. She did internal work on my actual trigger point and she did visceral work to try and loosen my adhesions.
It helped to the point where at least I wasn't missing work (I had previously been using FMLA) and I could somewhat function throughout the day. I also had trigger point injections and that gave me even more relief. But the knowledge I gained really helped me to get to the source of what was causing my spasms which is what we all really want to know right?
Past surgeries, past injuries long with stress has given me this chronic condition. I had a myomectomy (fibroid removal) in 2000. Then a uterine fibroid embolization in 2005. I also had old tailbone injury from a fall on the ice during childhood. On top of that, I found I exasperated the problem because I had developed a "guarding" position whenever I felt anxious or stressed or was in a situation where I felt uncomfortable. Something I had learned from childhood, more than likely a result of the verbal and emotional abuse I endured from my father. So now that my pelvic area was in a constant spasm with adhesions from past surgeries, I had to find out how to un-do the damage.
These 10 things have helped me tremendously:
1. As much as you can realistically do so, get rid of or minimize stress and anxiety. Relax! Pay attention to how you sit and how you hold your pelvic area. Breathe deeply and relax your pelvic floor
2. Daily stretch the pelvic area using yoga poses or just common sense floor stretches (2x a day if possible)
3. (for women) Purchase a vaginal dilator (even if the spasm does not originate in the vagina). Manually stretch the vagina on all sides twice daily for at least 10-15 minutes during times when you are not wound up. You need to be relaxed when you do this, perhaps after a bath
4. If you are overweight, lose weight. (after a 20 lb weight loss my symptoms improved almost 50%)
5. Find a prescription combo that works for you. I take 5mg Flexeril before bed. When I feel sore I take one 800mg Ibuprofen and one 500mg Acetaminophen. It knocks my pain out completely
6. Avoid straining when having a bowel movement. I have a prescription for Miralax and take it nightly. Also purchase a squatty potty to put your body in the proper alignment for bowel movements
7. Take hot baths as often as your schedule allows you to, but try every night before you go to bed even if it's only 10 minutes
8. If you can afford it or have insurance find a pelvic floor specialist
9. If you have issues from childhood, i.e. sexual, verbal, mental, emotional abuse and can afford to do so, find a therapist to work these issues out
10. Stay positive. This is not an overnight fix but realizing it can get better does wonders for your pain and your outlook
Today I experience 'soreness', not pain. I've made great progress. I would love to go into each of the 10 steps in detail but I don't want to make this post any longer than it has to be. If anyone would like to talk to me personally or ask questions you can reach me at catreceyoung at yahoo dot com.