Your Way out of Chronic Pelvic Pain
By Evelyn Hecht
Master Clinician of Pelvic Physiotherapy, Certified Chronic Pain Rehab Practitioner
What causes chronic pain/distress?
If you’ve ruled out a major medical cause(s) and test results are normal, why do you feel ongoing pain or related pelvic distress symptoms?
The main reason is the nervous and immune systems have become too sensitive, and the brain behaves like a hyper-vigilant helicopter parent. Scientists call this ‘central sensitization.’
Our nervous and immune systems are designed to look out for threats, even those that may be a potential threat to your well-being. They have a direct line of communication with the brain.
Threats don’t have to be physical, like sitting too long on a hard wooden seat if you have sitting pain. They can include negative self-talk, stressful social interactions, self-criticism, worry that you can’t be intimate with a partner or hold a job. These can be interpreted by your nervous and immune systems as dangerous, and their job is to send these danger messages to the brain.
There’s a scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when a flurry of letters fly into the uncle’s home, through the chimney, pouring through the letterbox inviting Harry to Hogwarts.
When the brain is barraged with threat messages, over time, it stops its normal weeding-out process of assessing if you are genuinely under physical threat. Now, any trigger of stress can result in the brain automatically sending protective pain/distress to your body.
Pain is the brain’s way of protecting you
The brain also tells the muscles to tighten up to protect the area from moving. So you lose ease and fluidity of movement, decreased pelvic function.
If you just twisted your ankle from a street pothole, the feeling of immediate “acute” pain is an excellent response from your brain. Suppose the ankle has healed in the typical 4 months, but you’re still feeling intense ankle pain without any measurable medical reason. In that case, this is now the realm of “chronic” pain.
Your central nervous system (nervous, immune system, and brain) is wired to focus on danger and focus less on good things. This is true for all people but has become supercharged for the person in chronic pain.
The good news is that this faulty pattern can be dampened and unlearned based on the principle of neuroplasticity. We can develop a healthier loop to use instead.
No Magic Bullet
By learning about pain science and practicing techniques that increase your sense of safety, having fewer incoming threat signals from the nervous and immune systems, and moving effortlessly, you’ll unlearn prior faulty patterns and create healthier ones. Of course, this takes time and consistent practice.
Unfortunately there isn’t any magic bullet for healing chronic pelvic pain.
What does Self-Care include?
- Learning about pain science
- Practicing techniques to lower the fear of doing an activity
- Doing mental exercises to soothe the hypersensitive nervous and immune systems
- Moving your body
What are Safe Techniques?
- Taking a walk in nature (without looking at your phone)
- Petting your dog/cat (releases the love hormone oxytocin in you and your pet)
- Focusing on what you are grateful to feel, have, experience
- Accepting a compliment
- Helping a friend
- Using your imagination to do a feared movement in a safe environment (Graded Motor Imagery)
- Saying Positive Affirmations out loud
Whether you’ve had chronic pain for six months or 25 years, your nervous/immune systems, brain, and body can learn a better way to be.
It takes your effort to achieve this and about 3-4 months of practice.
By understanding how our brain and body sync and influence each other, you can decrease your pelvic symptoms and improve function while receiving care from your healthcare practitioner.
Consistently practicing a knowledge-based self-care, mind & body practice designed by a master clinician of pelvic physical therapy, educator, and women’s health researcher.
For How Long?
Practice self-care three days a week for 20 minutes for about three or four months. So once the kids are in bed, take twenty minutes before watching your favourite Netflix show. One weekend day, go into a private room and spend twenty minutes listening to a calming audio guide to flood your body with endorphins. Every Thursday afternoon, do a gentle movement program to teach your brain that movement is safe.
A game-changing tool that can help you learn and practice the many self-help skills to enhance pelvic healing concurrently with medical care. If you are suffering from chronic pelvic pain or pelvic floor dysfunction, practicing PelvicSense while following your healthcare practitioner’s plan of care may hold the key to your pelvic healing process.
Download your free Pelvic Relaxation audio with music.
Get started with your free 7-day trial and discover why so many refer to PelvicSense as a true game changer.
Evelyn Hecht, PT, ATC, Master Clinician of Pelvic Physical Therapy; Certified Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Practitioner; CEO of EMH Physical Therapy in NYC for 25 years. She co-developed her first app PelvicTrack in 2013 and is currently on the scientific advisory board for Curable. Using PelvicSense is like tapping into Evelyn’s pelvic expertise, pain healing knowledge and breath of patient experiences wrapped into one amazing program to enhance your healing journey out of pelvic pain/distress.