Endometriosis is a common contributing factor to pelvic pain. Just to give you an idea of its prevalence: in laparoscopic procedures done to uncover possible causes of pelvic pain, endometriosis was found 80% of the time. The good news is that endo-related pelvic pain can be successfully treated with the proper pelvic floor PT!
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. First, in this blog post, I’m going to tackle how endo can either cause or impact pelvic pain, then I’ll explain how pelvic floor PT can successfully manage endo pain.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue like that which lines the inside of the uterus (known as endometrial tissue) grows outside of the uterus, most commonly in the abdominal cavity. This tissue can implant on any surface within the abdominal cavity including the ovaries, bladder, rectum, and along the abdominal/pelvic wall.
Commonly reported symptoms of endometriosis are painful cramping one to two weeks prior to menstruation, pain during menstruation, pain with sexual intercourse, pain in the location of the bladder, painful bowel movements and infertility.
Now, just how endo causes pain is the topic of much research, but here is a rundown of one theory:
Normally, when a woman is not pregnant, her endometrial tissue builds up inside her uterus, breaks down into blood and tissue, and is then shed during her period. Endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus goes through a similar cycle; it grows, breaks down into blood and tissue, and is shed once a month. Researchers believe that one reason for the pain that endo produces is that the endometrial tissue produces chemicals that may irritate the nearby tissue, as well as some other chemicals that are known to cause pain. In addition, because this tissue isn’t inside the uterus, it can’t leave the body the way a woman’s period normally does, so it can build up and wreak havoc.
The most common way that physicians diagnose endometriosis is using a laparoscopic procedure where a camera is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen. In addition, transrectal or transvaginal ultrasound, CT scans, and contrast MRIs can be used. In more advanced stages of the disease, endometriosis can be detected with a pelvic exam.
A few lines of treatment currently exist for endometriosis, including medication, hormone therapy and surgery. (See the list below for a more detailed look at these different treatment options.)
A spectrum of pain levels exist among women with the condition ranging from completely asymptomatic to relatively minor to severely debilitating symptoms. Interestingly, there has been no correlation made between the severity of the endometriosis disease process and the degree of pain a person experiences.
Endometriosis and the Pelvic Floor
Endometriosis can impact the pelvic floor musculature in a variety of ways.
For one thing...to read this blog in its entirety, please click the following link: