Earlier this year Liz and I completed our manuscript for our book, Pelvic Pain Explained. Writing it was a challenging process, to say the least. We are hopeful that this book will raise awareness about and help to demystify pelvic pain. By sharing our combined clinical experience we want to help people with pelvic pain and their providers develop the skills to better understand each individual case. After treating thousands of patients, we know thorough clinical reasoning, ongoing communication, and persistence works. In this week’s blog, we are excited to share the introduction to Pelvic Pain Explained. The book is scheduled to be released in January 2016. Stay tuned to PHRC’s social media for pre-sale information!
Anyone with persistent pelvic pain knows that getting on the right treatment path is often half the battle. The main reason for this is that persistent pain in general is a poorly understood medical condition compared to other diagnoses. So at the end of the day, many people with pelvic pain—while in the throes of dealing with symptoms that often wreak havoc on their daily lives—are struggling to find answers. They’re not alone in their frustration. Medical providers are often equally at a loss as they find themselves up against a lack of available research and education. The good news is that in recent years, a growing group of physicians, pelvic floor physical therapists, and psychologists are becoming actively involved in the research and management of pelvic pain syndromes. But while the landscape for treatment is improving, for many people dealing with pelvic pain getting a correct diagnosis and the appropriate treatment continues to be an uphill battle. We wrote this book to address that challenge. The purpose of this book is to act as a guide for patients and providers as they navigate the many complexities associated with the pelvic pain treatment process. As clinicians, we have a combined 30 years of experience both treating patients and educating providers. Over the years we’ve treated thousands of patients from one end of the pelvic pain spectrum to the other. As a result, we’ve learned what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to successfully treating pelvic pain. In the pages of this book we share that knowledge.
What is this book about?
At its heart, Pelvic Pain Explained is an exploration of pelvic pain from how patients get it to the challenges both patients and providers face throughout the treatment process to a discussion of the impact that an “invisible” condition has on a patient’s life and relationships, and much more. Patients will walk away from this book with a complete understanding of pelvic pain, from how it occurs to the variety of symptoms associated with it to how the impairments and contributing factors that are causing their symptoms are uncovered and treated.
In addition, the book will provide patients with an understanding of all of the current treatment options available to them. Those who develop pelvic pain can find the path to treatment frustrating and unsuccessful, oftentimes because they’re attempting to work within the framework of recovery that they’re used to; one in which they go to the doctor, maybe have some diagnostic testing done, then get a very specific diagnosis that dictates a very specific mode of treatment. This simply is not the path to recovery from pelvic pain. Pelvic pain is a health issue that often crosses the borders between medical disciplines because of the many different systems that can be involved. Gynecologists, urologists, gastroenterologists, orthopedists, pain management specialists, psychologists, acupuncturists, among others, all have a role to play in treating the pelvic floor. In addition, for recovery to occur, the patient must be an active participant in the treatment process. This book provides patients with the guidance they need to navigate this unfamiliar treatment framework thus placing them on the right path to recovery. For providers, the book demystifies pelvic pain. In addition, it contains information that will help them troubleshoot in situations where patients either cannot tolerate or are unresponsive to a particular treatment approach. As the information in these pages will prove, when a particular treatment doesn’t work, another option exists.
The book is organized into three parts. The goal of the first part of the book is to give readers an overview of pelvic pain. Toward that end, the chapters in this section discuss the symptoms, causes, and factors that contribute to pelvic pain as well as explain the role of the neuromusculoskeletal system in the condition. Part two of the book lays out the path to recovery from pelvic pain. This part of the book provides guidance on how patients can assemble the best team of providers, takes readers through the pelvic pain PT process, and provides a complete overview of the many different treatment options available for the condition. In addition, part two covers pelvic pain related issues concerning pregnancy and sexual health. Part three places patients in the driver seat of their recovery by giving them actionable information. At-home self-treatment strategies, tips on communicating with providers and staying fit while in recovery as well as practical tips for day-to-day living are among the topics covered in this section.
How will this book help me through treatment?
This book aims to provide a stepping off point for those with pelvic pain to begin to navigate the treatment process. Toward that end, it provides answers to the many questions they have as they stand on the threshold of their treatment journey, such as: How did I get pelvic pain? What is the best way to treat pelvic pain? What are my treatment options? How do I find qualified and knowledgeable providers? How do I navigate day-to-day life with pelvic pain? In addition, it guides patients through the many complexities that arise during the treatment and recovery process such as what to do when treatments don’t work; how to improve communication with medical providers; how to remain calm during a flare; and how to cope with the many emotional issues that crop up during the recovery process, among many others.
Our main intention in writing this book is to streamline the treatment process for both patients and providers. Oftentimes, patients fall into treatment traps, such as wasting time and money on unnecessary procedures that may make their condition worse. Just as often, they don’t fully understand the treatment modalities they sign up for, so they’re not compliant, and for that reason, they don’t get better. For all of these reasons, in this book we don’t just present information about pelvic pain; we combine it with the comprehensive assessment skills we’ve gained from our own experience as clinicians and educators. So by reading it, both patients and providers are not just informing themselves about pelvic pain, they’re also beginning to think critically about the issues that surround the treatment process thus better arming themselves for decision-making along the way.
Can reading this book help me get better?
Yes. For one thing, research shows that educating patients about the physiology behind their symptoms reduces stress and in return that reduces pain.The information in this book will demystify pelvic pain for readers allowing for reduced stress and anxiety surrounding their pain. Also, the book will help patients get better by helping them to navigate the pelvic pain treatment process. It will help direct them to the right providers, allow them to make educated treatment choices, alert them to the right questions to ask, and in general, enable them to be unintimidated by the treatment process. At the end of the day, all of this will help patients get better.
Why did PTs write this book?
Physical therapy, specifically, is becoming the standout of the new interdisciplinary treatment approach to persistent pain in general. In fact, in her best-selling book on persistent pain, The Pain Chronicles, author, Melanie Thernstrom advises readers to commit to giving PT a try. “Truly, if you take any advice from this book, take this one,” she writes. And New York Times author, Barry Meier, in his controversial article “The Problem with Pain Pills,” passes along similar advice. PT, along with an interdisciplinary treatment plan, is the way to go, he writes. And to further validate the central role that PT now plays in the treatment of persistent pain, lawmakers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, have some form of “direct access” law in place allowing patients to have direct access to PTs without a physician referral or prescription. This emphasis on PT is especially relevant when it comes to the treatment of pelvic pain. That’s because PT is a main line of treatment for the majority of pelvic pain patients. Therefore, it makes sense for THE definitive book on navigating pelvic pain to be written by PTs…
When Liz and I met each other a decade ago we instantly bonded over our shared passion for helping people dealing with pelvic pain. Spurred on by our desire to improve the standard of care for this patient population, we ultimately partnered up and opened our physical therapy practice, the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center (PHRC). From the outset, our goal with PHRC was to improve the standard of care for pelvic pain treatment. At this point, we believe we have developed a successful treatment model, one that stresses an interdisciplinary approach to treatment, and we’re looking forward to sharing it in these pages.
All our best,
Liz and Stephanie