Lightning Crotch. Ouch! Our pubic symphysis is the point where the two halves of our pelvis meet in front – the bone at the top and front of the groin. For those that have had pubic symphysis dysfunction (PSD) or “lightning crotch” you well know that this can go from slightly irritating pain to WHAT IS GOING ON HERE! B(#%P! pretty quickly.

Commonly associated with pregnancy, we well know that individuals suffering with PSD can get to a point of despair and resignation that this pain will become a new normal; often because that is what we are being told about pain during pregnancy! “This is just part of becoming a woman” is a term I have heard yet again this past week from a client. I urge us to think of pain in pregnancy (any pain, but in this instance PSD), as something that although is common is not normal.

We wouldn’t tell someone who has just started running that has developed knee pain that “this is just part of becoming a runner – it will go away when you stop

 

There is research now that shows that pain in pregnancy can often be addressed with physiotherapy (1,2) – from PSD to back pain, and that staying active during pregnancy (3) has many benefits (which is hard to do when you are painful!). When there is pain, there is usually something we can do about it!

 

Case Study

An active mother of 28 comes into the clinic complaining of groin pain – it’s sharp, shooting, sometimes take your breath away pain that is getting progressively worse as her pregnancy continues on. She is only 26 weeks gestation and has been struggling with pain since about 16 weeks and finally decided to come to an appointment after talking with a friend about it. She is having difficulty rolling in bed (she tries squeezing her knees together because that is what she read on a few blogs on google) which has helped a little but not much, standing on one leg, and she sometimes notices popping and clicking with movement that really hurts as well. She tried kicking an empty laundry basket out to the side the other day and found that extremely painful as well.

Although there are many reasons for PSD, we will go through some of the things that may be found during a physiotherapy assessment of this type of pain

Assessment

Upon evaluation the client was clearly limping while they were walking, more on the right than the left leg, they had pain with standing on the right leg more than the left leg, and had difficulty bringing their knee toward their chest on both sides in standing. Generally speaking these individuals will have some restriction of movement on one side (same side as pain or the opposite – everyone is different!), significant muscle tightness of the inner thigh, and poor coordination of the gluteals. We also often see a change in posture – the individual may be hinging backwards (rib cage back over the pelvis), but there is a huge variation in the changes seen here depending on the underlying cause.

What can I do NOW?

In many instances our protective mechanisms related to pain may end up being one of the additional driving factors of our pain – your groin hurts, and when you hurt you tend to ‘protect’ the area (curling in) and the muscles around the area will tighten. Increased tension often doesn’t help serve us to feel better or less painful, but may drive a continued pain cycle! Squeezing the knees together to roll like in this instance, may help initially, but overall results in increased tension and often stops being helpful over a short period of time. Relaxing the muscles – particularly the inner thigh – and activating the gluts can go a long way to improving PSD pain. As always, an individual assessment is best, but when you are rolling over, try pushing yourself over with a bent knee (leg straight to the side you want to roll to), and spending some time in a ‘butterfly’ position.

At Warman Physio we have experienced physiotherapists that will use a variety of hands-on treatment while you are in-clinic, as well as home programming and exercises so that you can continue to help yourself to feel better between appointments!

PSD can be a draining, exhausting, and very painful experience for some people, and merely annoying, irritating, and minorly problematic for others. Let us help you, help yourself!

 

Haylie has been practicing pelvic health and focused in prenatal and post-partum care since graduating from the U of S MPT program in 2011. She officially added to her practice pediatric pelvic floor therapy in 2017. Haylie has been advocating for treatment for women, ensuring appropriate and effective care throughout pregnancy and post-partum, and helping all expecting and post-partum moms ultimately brought her to open her family-friendly clinic since opening in 2014. She now adds to this education and treatment provision her knowledge and experience in pediatric pelvic health providing workshops and presentations in addition to assessment and treatment. At Warman Physio clients are encouraged to bring their infants and children to treatment. Haylie was recognized as YWCA Women of Distinction for Health & Wellness in 2017, the ABEX Young Entrepreneur Award Recipient in 2018, and has been nominated for the 2019 SABEX and WMBEXA Awards.

 References:

  1. E Vermani et al (2009). Pelvic Girdle Pain and Low Back Pain in Pregnancy: A Review. World Institute of Pain. Volume 10, Issue 1 (60-71)
  2. E Richards, G van Kessel, R Virgara, & P Harris (2012). Does antenatal physical therapy for pregnant women with low back pain or pelvic pain improve functional outcomes? A systematic review. Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology. (ahead of print)
  3. MF Mottola et al (2019). 2019 Canadian guideline for physical activity throughout pregnancy. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Volume 52, Issue 21

SIJ pain – sacroiliac joint – that lower than low back pain that is off to the side but not quite your butt… This pain is commonly aggravated by rolling in bed, standing on one leg (getting dressed!), walking, and getting into/out of a vehicle… Check out the case study and information we have on Pelvic Girdle Pain (SIJ version)

Pelvic Girdle Pain

A 35 year old individual began experiencing pain in the low back off to the left side. Their pain was worse with rolling in bed, standing on one leg to get dressed and is now to the point that they need to sit to get dressed, having pain and difficulty with stairs, the pain gets worse the longer they walk, and they always feel it just in the one spot at the back to start and then it radiates around the hip and into the groin as it gets worse.

Although there are many reasons why someone may have pain with rolling, stairs, and walking, let’s go through some of the possible reasons WHY this happens, what we can do about it, and how you can start your road to recovery TODAY! 

What causes pelvic girdle pain?
When we are thinking of pelvic girdle pain we are specifically thinking of the pubic symphysis (right in the front of the pelvis), the SIJ (the joints between the pelvis and sacrum at the back), and the hips.

For this particular case study we are thinking of the SIJ at the back of the pelvis on one side being more problematic than the other. Why does this happen? For some people pain may stem from an area moving more than the other side, and for others it will be from moving less. In some instances we will have pain due to extra muscle tension across the joint (the gluts), or not enough support, stability, and strength by the muscles… why you have pain will boil down to the change in movement, and the change in tension and how your brain interprets that difference.

Often SIJ dysfunction and pain can arise without a particular cause or injury, and sometimes starts after an injury or particular instance of “ow! That hurts!”

If you have pelvic girdle pain, a physical therapy assessment could benefit you!
What you may expect from this appointment is a postural assessment to look at your alignment, flexibility of the lower extremity muscles, mobility of the spine, pelvis, and hips, and evaluation of how you walk and move. You physiotherapist will often do some manual techniques to evaluate joint mobility and muscle tension throughout the hips and pelvis as well.

In many instances by the end of the assessment there is a clear driving factor to the pain that can begin being addressed by home programming. This will put you in charge of feeling better, and not relying solely on having to come to the clinic to improve. Your therapist may provide you with a variety of homework items including stretching/re-education of muscles that are providing too much tension, strengthening of muscles that aren’t providing enough support, and exercises to help you move with more symmetry to restore balance.

A common question we are asked is how long until I’m better?

The recovery period usually varies from client to client, depending on the severity and frequency of signs and symptoms, the duration of symptoms, the activity level the client is needing to maintain, and the ability to be able to practice their home exercise program. Typically, with a straightforward case we tend to see client’s 1x every 1 to 2 weeks for a total of 4 to 6 sessions. These sessions include manual therapy/hands on treatment, as well as progressing exercises for your home program to help you help yourself.

Need to know what can help RIGHT NOW?!

Without an assessment we are unable to determine what will specifically help you with your specific pain (it could be that you don’t have an SIJ problem after all!) Since some SIJ dysfunction may come from muscle imbalance, resting in a “butterfly” position (modified cobblers pose as pictured above), and working on activating the glute muscles (your butt!) may prove helpful. However, if something is painful and doesn’t seem to be improving (quickly!) find ways to move that are pain-free (or less painful), and schedule an appointment to have it checked out so we can target the underlying cause and give you tips!

Do I have to stop working out?

Probably not. Some things may need to be modified or swapped initially, but if you are a regular exerciser and have goals you are wanting to achieve, then it is our job to help you reach them, pain-free!

Don’t delay! Schedule your assessment today to get started your journey to recovery!

 

Haylie has been practicing pelvic health and focused in prenatal and post-partum care since graduating from the U of S MPT program in 2011. She officially added to her practice pediatric pelvic floor therapy in 2017. Haylie has been advocating for treatment for women, ensuring appropriate and effective care throughout pregnancy and post-partum, and helping all expecting and post-partum moms ultimately brought her to open her family-friendly clinic since opening in 2014. She now adds to this education and treatment provision her knowledge and experience in pediatric pelvic health providing workshops and presentations in addition to assessment and treatment. At Warman Physio clients are encouraged to bring their infants and children to treatment. Haylie was recognized as YWCA Women of Distinction for Health & Wellness in 2017, the ABEX Young Entrepreneur Award Recipient in 2018, and has been nominated for the 2019 SABEX and WMBEXA Awards.

March was Endometriosis Awareness month, and we have provided some information related to endo for everyone on our social media (Facebook and Instagram). If you are wondering what endometriosis looks like for someone living with it, you can check out the story we posted earlier in the month. As promised here are some of the things that Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy can do for you…

Pain Science

Physiotherapists that work with pelvic pain conditions, such as endometriosis, have additional training specific to the actual science behind pain. Having this knowledge to give to our clients allows us to de-mystify pain, help us understand pain perception, and why the symptoms are occurring. Globally with pain science, one of the most important things to understand are there are no pain signals to the brain. The brain receives information from the body, and depending on what all those signals are saying, will determine if something is painful or not. Have you ever stubbed your toe when you are having a great day? It hurts SO MUCH. But, if you stub your toe while you are in the middle of an argument with someone, it doesn’t hurt the same; that’s pain science!

Everyone has heard a story of someone being in an accident of some kind and being able to get to a hospital (or civilization) before feeling pain.

How does this apply to endo? Endometriosis is the presence of uterine-like tissue outside of the uterus, within the pelvic bowl and abdomen (generally). Endometrial tissue contracts during menses to shed the lining of the uterine wall. If this tissue is outside of the uterus… it still contracts on the tissue it is adhered to.

Which brings us to….

Assist muscle tension

If you have a muscle that is contracting and creating more tension over time, and you aren’t stretching it, eventually it becomes tighter. Have you tried stretching tight muscles? How about making them contract more?

Here is where we talk about what happens in a painful body – when we have abdominal and pelvic pain, we try and protect the area. This protection leads us to adopt a fetal position. Tightness develops in the abdominals, hip flexors, pelvic floor, and diaphragm, which plays into the pain cycle. Pelvic floor physiotherapists will work with each woman to obtain appropriate length, strength, and coordination of the muscles in the abdomen and pelvic bowl.

Tight muscles are often painful muscles.

Provide self-assistance tools

We are here to help you, help yourself. Giving you tools to reduce pain for between episodes, things to try during painful episodes, and ultimately manage your pain.

Some things that could be helpful include: stretching your hip flexors, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, using a wheat bag, and releasing muscles using an acupressure ball (or tennis ball).

 

Endometriosis can’t be cured by physiotherapy, but the symptoms can be managed. Contact us today to see how we can help you, or use the Book Now section to schedule your assessment today, and take control.

*Note: Kendra Usunier is our Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist that is able to take new clients at this time. Only clients that have seen Haylie Lashta previously are to schedule in with her at this time. We appreciate each person and their unique journey to find us, contact us directly should you have any questions.

Haylie has been practicing women’s health and focused in prenatal and post-partum care since graduating from the U of S MPT program in 2011. Advocating for treatment for women, ensuring appropriate and effective care throughout pregnancy and post-partum, and helping all expecting and post-partum moms brought her to open her family-friendly clinic; where clients are encouraged to bring their infants and children to treatment. Warman Physiotherapy & Wellness has been nominated for the 2016 WMBEXA and ABEX Awards, is a WMBEXA award recipient of 2017, and Haylie was recognized as YWCA Women of Distinction for Health & Wellness in 2017.

For Endometriosis Awareness Month, we wanted to give our readers a true story to hear from. The individual that wrote this story has not been seen at the clinic, and is in no way affiliated with Warman Physiotherapy & Wellness. She, like many others, wants to raise awareness, give some of her symptoms, and hopefully, help people understand that pain is NOT normal. Onto her story….

My journey with endometriosis began many, many years ago. I just didn’t know it. As a teenager I was riddled with crippling periods involving an extremely heavy flow, and excruciatingly painful cramps that I remember eating handfuls of Midol to help get through the day. I was told “welcome to being a woman, this is normal”. Hindsight is 20:20. It was the furthest thing from normal. Thankfully, I was put on birth control, which seemed to make my periods manageable. My actual diagnosis of endometriosis was not until Oct of 2017. 6 Months prior to this I started developing excruciating stabbing pains in my right lower abdomen. A walk in doctor triaged me to the emergency room thinking my appendix had ruptured. Blood work showed no signs of infection, IV pain meds were given and an x-ray image did not show anything concerning. I was sent home with pain meds and told that I needed to poop. Exactly one month later (a month between my period) I ended up in excruciating pains where once again I ended up in the emergency room. This ER doctor again thought for sure it was my appendix but this time ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed a 4cm hemorrhagic cyst on my right ovary. I was sent home with pain meds, and another ultrasound requisition. I was told to go see my family doctor in 6 weeks. I was told that a hemorrhagic cyst is nothing to worry about that it can happen with ovulation. My anatomy background and my knowledge of how a body works from also being a vet tech gave me a feeling that something more was wrong. The pain experienced during this time nearly made me pass out. Breathing hurt so I would hold my breath. I knew something wasn’t right. A 2nd ultrasound 30 hrs later showed that my cyst had grown by a couple of centimeters but that the radiologist wasn’t concerned as it’s just a hemorrhagic cyst and they can happen during ovulation. I wasn’t ovulating, I was at the end of my period. Something wasn’t right.

 

I have a really amazing gynecologist. Let me say that again. I have an amazing gynecologist. When I went into pre-eclampsia with my daughter, this gynecologist delivered my daughter and I met the most compassionate doctor who actually listened. I knew I had to get in to see her and that as long as I could get in to see her everything would be ok. But of course because I hadn’t seen her in over a year I would need a new referral. Off to another walk in dr. Unfortunately, my gynecologist didn’t have an available appointment for months. My stomach ached, and my guts ached, I would bloat up as if I was 8 months pregnant. There was a time at work where I came to work wearing jeans and by the end of the day I left in scrubs because my button wouldn’t do up. I begged the receptionist to send my gynecologist a message, begging her to understand that every month I will end up in the ER from passing out pain due to this “no big deal cyst on my ovary.” My compassionate gynecologist heard my message and within days, I was booked an appointment with her. She ordered more tests, another series of ultrasounds. Cysts usually burst and go away or at least shrink; mine wasn’t. I was still having daily pelvic pain, daily gut aches. I was put on a birth control to hopefully stop my cycle and stop the stabbing/ passing out pain that came at the end of my period. My gynecologist mentioned that she thought I had a disease called endometriosis. I had honestly never heard of it before. I went home that night and did what most people do– I took to google. Symptoms of this disease was pelvic pain, which I did have prior to these episodes but chalked it up to the many bladder infections that I’ve suffered from. Extremely painful periods was another symptom, which again I had when I was not on birth control. Surely, this disease couldn’t have started at the age of 16. I kept reading, “many women with endometriosis suffer from infertility.” 2 years prior, I had a beautiful baby girl so I couldn’t much relate to that. Back pain can also be a sign of endometriosis. Sure, my back hurt, but I had also been diagnosed with scoliosis of my spine years earlier so my back pain was from that. “The feeling of your insides being pulled down”. My gynecologist asked me during one of my appointments how I was feeling. I told her “it’s like I’ve eaten Chinese food for all 3 meals a day. Like my guts are just so heavy they are all hanging below my belly button.”

I wasn’t convinced. I kept thinking that this disease would have shown up on my previous CT scan, my previous abdominal ultrasounds I’ve had for a tumor I have in my liver. Surely, it would have shown up when I had a previous laparoscopic surgery to remove my gall bladder.

I went in for surgery in October to have this cyst removed. Upon waking up from surgery, I was told I had endometriosis bad. Really, really, bad. I was told that it was so bad another surgeon had to be called in to help. I heard the words “you are the worst case of endometriosis I have ever seen”. My surgeon(s) spent hours cutting out the endometriosis that they could. They removed the cyst on my ovary that was larger than my uterus. They spent hours and hours cutting off endometriosis off major blood vessels, my uterus, this cyst. I was told when they opened me up they found a pool of blood in my abdomen. That is the thing with endometriosis, when you have your period and shed your endometrial tissue from the inside of your uterus, your endometriosis that has grown outside of your uterus also bleeds.

The bad news didn’t end there. If someone is going to have endometriosis it usually stays in your pelvic area. Attaching to and growing on your uterus, ovaries, bladder, colon, pelvic floor. In rare cases, endometriosis grows outside of the pelvis. I happen to be one of the rare ones. Many, many endometriosis lesions were found along my ribs and my diaphragm. My gynecologist had no idea that I had this disease this bad, and neither did I. After all the first ER doctor told me that pooping would solve all of my pain.

I read online that someone compared endometriosis to cancer. That it can spread like cancer does, the only difference is that there is no cure for endometriosis. There were days I was in denial that the diagnosis seemed like a bad dream. The one thing that brought that dream back to reality is that I still suffered pain. You see this disease has two options, cut it out and try to suppress it with medication. I am doing both. And yet it seems with myself and many others even with excision surgery and suppressive medication, there is still pain.

I look back at my journey of my diagnosis and I thank God each day that I did not accept “it’s nothing to worry about” for an answer. Thank God I insisted on seeing my gynecologist sooner vs months later. I am thankful every day for the medical background I have in my personal career that gave me the knowledge that “something isn’t right.”

 

 

My journey with endo isn’t over, I don’t think it will ever be over. I will be on hormone suppressing pills for the rest of my life. I will have more surgeries in the future, some life threatening ones where they shut down your lungs one side at a time. I’ve been sent for MRI and CT scans to see if they can find endo in my lungs. Yes, this endo can invade your lungs. I’ve often told people that endo is a silent disease. From the many support groups that I have joined; I’ve learnt that it’s not uncommon to go years without a proper diagnosis. Endo isn’t always detectable on MRI, CT, Ultrasounds, or X-rays. A laparoscopic surgery performed by an endo specialist is the proper way to diagnose endometriosis. I’ve even heard of some peoples endo only being found under a histological biopsy.

 

I truly believe there needs to be more endometriosis awareness seeing as how 1 in 10 women suffer from this disease. Heck, I was that 10% and I didn’t even know it. I am very open with others about my endometriosis hoping that maybe I can raise awareness and make someone realize that pain doesn’t have to be “being a woman.”

 

Wonder how Physiotherapy can help you with endometriosis? We will be completing our follow-up on what physiotherapy is capable of assisting with for those that have endometriosis before the end of the month. If you want to start now, schedule in with Kendra HERE.

I am a UK based physio working in Exeter and Totnes. My focus is in helping people to develop a positive relationship with their body allowing them to become injury free, taking control of their own health and enjoying an active life.

When learning new choreography there is often a pressure to get the moves right quickly. This can energise us and enables us to focus our effort but it can also increase stress and tension. By focusing on what we’re trying to achieve it’s easy to forget our bodies, the very thing we need to be tuned in to. In my experience as a physiotherapist, tension is the major risk factor in triggering an injury.

How can I stay relaxed when learning choreography?

As a physiotherapist I work closely with breath. When we are stressed it is easy to lose our natural breathing pattern. This results in breathing into the chest rather than using our full abdomen, increasing tension and reducing performance.

Instead, take opportunities to breathe in softly through the nose feeling the lower abdomen gently expand. Avoid pulling in or tensing the stomach muscles. If you sense tension or discomfort you can take a long, slow and gentle out breath exhaling through the nose. Feel the muscle tension melting away, you can focus relaxation on specific parts of your body.

Dancing is fun and it is important to not be hard on yourself but to treat your body with patience. Often my clients put a lot of pressure on themselves and find that their performance improves when they just relax into their practice. Trust that you’re doing your best and your body will follow. If you have an injury it can be both stressful and frustrating, you may feel unable to train and this stress is likely to slow down recovery. I encourage clients to use imagery in their recovery process, softening breath and imagining yourself doing the choreography. Imagery has been shown to improve sports performance and helps connect the body and mind.

Michael Otto BSc MCSP  Holistic Physio in the UK.