I recently attended a 2 day workshop run by a group called “Pelvic Pain Victoria”. It brought together health professionals across the spectrum to discuss best team management of pelvic pain in its many presentations. We had Doctors, both G.Ps and Specialists (Urologists, Pain Specialists, Gynaecologists, Urogynaecologists, Gastroenterologists), Psychologists, Pain Scientists and Physiotherapists all gathered together to hear what each group is trying to do to help manage pain.
The main messages are:
Pain is real. Pain is never “just in your head”.
Pain is there when it first starts for a good reason: it is there to protect us and allow us to stop, heal and get better.
Sometimes the process of healing doesn’t run to plan and nerves start, lets say, to get used to sending messages of pain and they start to send more messages making us feel that the pain is there all the time or getting worse.
We know that there are multiple major organs sitting close together in the pelvis. Messages of pain come from one organ and arrive at the spinal cord very close to where the messages arrive from another. So messages from say, the bladder, can easily become confused with messages from the bowel and this helps those with pelvic pain understand why the pain seems to spread and come from more than one place.
It can be confusing, worrying and upsetting. it can start to undermine your mental health and wellbeing.
But another big message is that EDUCATION is a therapy: learning about what has gone wrong, how and why the pain is continuing is a therapy. It helps you to build the skills needed to overcome and manage pain. Time spent with a health professional learning how it all works will help you in the long term.
There was a lot of discussion about medications and the latest on what works best. Each invited speaker talked of how their individual specialty intervenes to manage problems as wide ranging as musculoskeletal pain, sexual pain in men and women, bowel disorders, endometriosis, bladder pain, prostate problems etc.
To manage pain well, we all need to work in a team. So choose a health professional who is interested in what everyone else is doing and who tries to work as a team. This can be more difficult in rural areas away from major centres, but Pelvic Pain Victoria is trying to bring people together to be able to help you better.