FAQ’s Pelvic Pain
Pain occurring in the area of the pelvis (the abdomen below the belly button and the pelvic area above the hips) is referred to as Pelvic Pain. Depending on the exact cause of symptoms, there may be pain in the lumbar region of the back (lower back) in addition to pain in the pelvis.
It is much more common for women to experience pelvic pain, largely in part due to the number of potential causes stemming from their unique reproductive complications.
What are the causes of Pelvic Pain?
Almost any condition occurring in the pelvic or spinal lumbar regions may result in pain felt in the pelvis. Direct causes of pelvic pain include infections within the abdominal organs (such as the bladder or kidneys), endometrial growth (a much larger concern in women), irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual cramps, and constipation among others.
Pain in the pelvis may also be present as referred pain from conditions of the lumbar spine (lower back). This is due to the potential of injury to the spine compressing one or more of the nerves that provide sensation to the pelvis. Nerves compressed in this manner may result in symptoms of pain or weakness, with effects that can vary based on what nerve is compressed.
What are the symptoms of Pelvic Pain?
The symptoms present will vary based on what the root cause of pain in the pelvic region is. Symptoms shared among the different causes include general sensations of pain, which may consist of a stabbing or shooting pain in the pelvis, a feeling of constant pressure on the internal pelvic organs, pain that fades and returns or that is only felt while maneuvering a certain way, or pain that of the bladder leading to sudden urges of bladder release.
Symptoms felt in the pelvis may also lead to a feeling of weakness in the lower extremities. These are the normal symptoms associated with one or compressed spinal nerves. Patients may also experience constipation as a source of pain.
Women may experience pelvis pain in ways different than men due to the differences in reproductive organs. Pelvic pain may manifest as a reaction to menstrual cramps.
How is Pelvic Pain diagnosed?
Diagnosis of pelvic pain will be achieved through careful evaluation of the patient from one of our physicians, with a focus on the medical history of the patient and on what symptoms are present. Detailing every symptom present, however minor, during this evaluation can be crucial in an accurate diagnosis of the source of pain. Due to the number of symptoms shared between causes of pain, diagnosis may require physical examination of the patients’ pelvis to locate the source of pain.
The method used most often for diagnosis of pelvic pain that is located closer to the abdomen is a laparoscopy. A small incision will be made into the abdominal wall, after which a small lighted tube will be inserted into the patient. Through this the physician will be able to visible examine the inside of the abdomen to search for infection, tissue damage, or endometrial growth.
Other imaging techniques used for pelvic pain include X-rays, MRIs and CT scans. These are used to examine the patient for structural abnormalities, such as if a piece of damaged spine is the source of pain. MRI and CT scans will reveal whether or not pain is occurring due to soft tissue damage, such as with the compression of a spinal nerve.
Treatment options for Pelvic Pain
Treatment for pelvic pain will differ based on what symptoms were present. Common methods include medication for pain and inflammation, and may include antibiotics for patients experiencing pain due to infection.
Patients with pelvic pain may also receive a superior hypogastric plexus block as treatment. This is an injection of anesthetic into the affected nerve to cease its transmission of pain signals to the brain, providing relief for an extended period of time. This helps relieve pelvic pain over 70% of the time. Repeat injections may be necessary every few weeks for best results.