The following is our interview with Jennifer Eller, PT, DPT, PRPC. Jenni recently passed the Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner Certification (PRPC) exam. She practices at Enloe Medical Center in Chico, CA and is a Teaching Assistant for local California satellite courses with H&W. Jenni was kind enough to share some thoughts about her career with us. Thank you, Jenni - and congratulations on receiving your PRPC!
Q: Who are you? Describe your clinical practice.
A: My name is Jenni Eller, and I am a pelvic floor physical therapist at Enloe Rehabilitation Center (hospital-based outpatient clinic) in Chico, CA. I specialize in pelvic floor, orthopedic, and oncological diagnoses. Specifically, conditions related to incontinence, pelvic pain, dyspareunia, vaginismus, interstitial cystitis, and the post-surgical pelvis, as well as pelvic floor issues, post-oncological treatment pelvic floor issues, pre and postnatal issues, male pelvic floor dysfunction, and other pelvic floor dysfunctions.
Q: How did you get involved in the pelvic rehabilitation field, and what has your educational journey as a pelvic rehab therapist looked like?
A: I grew up in Oregon and Washington, and completed my undergraduate degree in Exercise Science at Linfield College in 2009. I completed my Doctorate Degree in Physical Therapy at Regis University in Denver, CO in 2013.
After graduate school, I worked in a small rehabilitation hospital but quickly transitioned to outpatient rehabilitation and started working with the orthopedic and oncological patient population. The hospital system I was in had hired 3 new gynecology oncologists and were interested in developing the pelvic health program there. I started my training for pelvic floor physical therapy with Herman and Wallace in 2015. I have completed the Herman and Wallace Pelvic Floor series in 2017 and passed the Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner Certification in May 2021.
Q: What patient population do you find most rewarding in treating and why?
A: Over the past 6 years, I have enjoyed helping both women and men with issues related to their pelvic floor, connecting it to their spine, hip, abdominal, and lower extremity issues. I help them return to an active lifestyle and feel empowered over something so limiting and invisible to others.
Patients with pelvic floor dysfunction are often overlooked because their symptoms are too sensitive to speak about. I truly believe they deserve the best care possible and am grateful to be part of a team that focuses on patient-centered care. Treating both pelvic floor dysfunction and the oncological patient population benefits under-served patient populations. Both demographics have my heart for personal reasons. I always knew I wanted to help those who are in need able to get much support.
Q: What has been your favorite Herman & Wallace Course and why?
A: I have enjoyed the whole pelvic floor series, but Pelvic Floor Level 1 and Level 2B, taught by Tina Allen and Holly Tanner, were so great! These courses just inspired me to give my full attention to pelvic health. They are easy to learn from and full of so much knowledge.
Q: What is in store for you in the future as a clinician?
A: Right now, I am focused on building the pelvic health program in this smaller northern California city and hopefully bringing more providers to serve this community. I have a dream of teaching in the future and helping build the next generation of physical therapists and pelvic floor physical therapists.
Portions of this blog are from an interview with Dustienne Miller. Dustienne is the creator of the two-day course Yoga for Pelvic Pain. She passionately believes in the integration of physical therapy and yoga in a holistic model of care, helping individuals navigate through pelvic pain and incontinence to live a healthy and pain-free life.
Have you noticed when you are afraid or don’t want to feel something you hold your breath? Imagine what it's like to have daily pain that limits function and how that could impact rib cage, abdominal and pelvic floor expansion. Dustienne Miller discusses this in her remote course, Yoga for Pelvic Pain, upcoming on July 31 - August 1, 2021. Her course focuses on two of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s eightfold path: pranayama (breathing) and asana (postures) and how they can be applied for patients who have hip, back, and pelvic pain.
Dustienne explains "We teach our patients how breathing patterns inform our digestion, our spine, our emotional state, our pelvic floor, etc. It’s one of the most powerful tools we have to inform our system that we are safe. Despite this knowledge, we will often find ourselves holding our breath or breathing in non-optimal ways without even realizing it." Dustienne focuses her practice on introducing yoga to patients within the medical model. Yoga can be included in pelvic rehabilitation in so many ways, including incorporating yoga home programs as therapeutic exercise and neuromuscular re-education (both between visits and after discharge).
Pelvic conditions that can be positively impacted by yoga are interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome, vulvar pain, coccydynia, hip pain, and pudendal neuralgia. Treatment for these conditions often involves an individualized approach that may include both pharmacologic therapies (prescription drugs, analgesics, and NSAIDs) and nonpharmacologic interventions such as exercise, muscle strength training, cognitive behavioral therapy, movement/body awareness practices, massage, acupuncture, and nutrition.
A systematic review of the 2017 clinical practice guidelines evaluated 14 randomized controlled trials and found that yoga was associated with lower pain scores (1). Similarly, in 2020 there was a review of 25 randomized controlled trials that examined the effects of yoga on back pain. Out of these trials, 20 studies reported positive outcomes in pain, psychological distress, and energy (2).
The great thing about yoga is that the asanas (postures) can be modified to accommodate your strength, experience, and health conditions. An example of this is the Downward Facing Dog pose. There are so many ways to made Downward Facing Dog work for your body. Use straps, the wall, or the plinth/countertop to provide support for your body as needed, which might look different each day.
Some folks think you need to be flexible to have a yoga practice. Dustienne stresses "What is necessary is to be flexible with understanding that every day might feel different. If you are in an active pain flare your practice will look different than on the days you are feeling better. That can be a challenging aspect of a mindful practice - embracing that every day is different. Have the courage not to judge yourself, but to celebrate that you are meeting your needs with kindness."
People have been doing yoga for thousands of years. It is a mind-body and exercise practice that combines breath control, meditation, and movements to stretch and strengthen muscles. Join Dustienne Miller in Yoga for Pelvic Pain on July 31 - August 1, 2021, to learn more about incorporating yoga into your clinical practice.
No prior experience with teaching yoga is required to attend the course. However, all participants must possess a working knowledge of pelvic pain conditions and foundational rehabilitation principles.
Rachna Mehta, PT, DPT, CIMT, OCS, PRPC is the author and instructor of the new Acupressure for Pelvic Health course. Rachna brings a wealth of experience to her physical therapy practice and has a personal interest in various eastern holistic healing traditions. Her course Acupressure for Optimal Pelvic Health brings a unique evidence-based approach and explores complementary medicine as a powerful tool for holistic management of the individual as a whole focusing on the physical, emotional, and energy body.
Constipation is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder, with prevalence in the general population of approximately 20%. In the elderly population, the incidence of constipation is higher compared to the younger population, with elderly females suffering more often from severe constipation (1).
Is there a magic button in the perineum that makes it easier to defecate? In case you have wondered, the answer is YES!!!
A study done recently by Dr. Ryan Abbott and colleagues at UCLA’s Department of Medicine found just that. A randomized control trial was conducted with 100 subjects who had functional constipation, half randomized to treatment and half to the control group. The treatment group received training in self perineal acupressure along with standard treatment options. The control group only received information about standard constipation treatment options.
Perineal self-acupressure technique was found to be remarkably effective with statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in Patient Assessments of Constipation Quality of Life (PAC-QOL All), modified Bowel Function Index (BFI), and the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12v2). Patients in the treatment group also reported substantial satisfaction with perineal self-acupressure technique:
In this study, perineal acupressure was applied at the Acupressure point Huiyin or CV 1 located at the perineum. Huiyin is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) not only to treat constipation, but also a variety of conditions including impotence, hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, and dysmenorrhea. In addition, there are several key Acu-points like St 36 on the Stomach meridian and CV 6 which can help with constipation and digestive disorders.
Acupressure is based on Traditional Chinese meridian theory in which acupuncture points are pressed to stimulate the flow of energy or Qi and these points reflect disorders of visceral conditions and organs.
Acupuncture meridians are believed to form a network throughout the body, connecting peripheral tissues to each other and to the central viscera. This tissue network is also continuous with more specialized connective tissues such as periosteum, perimysium, perineurium, pleura, peritoneum, and meninges (3).
Dr. Abbott’s study suggests that clinicians should consider incorporating perineal self-acupressure technique as a first-line treatment for constipation, along with conventional interventions such as increased exercise and dietary fiber intake. Benefits include being non-invasive and non-pharmacological treatment intervention for constipation with likely a lower risk for side effects and complications than commonly used medications such as stool softeners, fiber supplements, stimulants, laxatives, and lubricants (2).
As medical providers, we are uniquely trained to combine our orthopedic skills with mindfulness-based holistic interventions to empower our patients by giving them the tools and self-care regimens to live healthier pain-free lives.
The upcoming remote course Acupressure for Optimal Pelvic Health, scheduled for July 24-25, 2021, brings a unique evidence-based approach on the use of potent Acupressure points for treating a wide variety of pelvic health conditions including chronic pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, constipation, digestive disturbances and urinary dysfunctions to name a few.
The course also offers an introduction to Yin yoga and explores Yin poses within each meridian to channelize energy through neurodynamic pathways with powerful integrative applications across multiple systems.
Erica Vitek, MOT, OTR, BCB-PMD, PRPC has attended extensive post-graduate rehabilitation education in the area of Parkinson disease and exercise. She is certified in LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment) BIG and is a trained PWR! (Parkinson Wellness Recovery) provider, both focusing on intensive, amplitude, and neuroplasticity-based exercise programs for people with Parkinson disease. Erica has taken a special interest in the unique pelvic floor, bladder, bowel, and sexual health issues experienced by individuals diagnosed with Parkinson disease. You can learn more about this topic in Erica's course, Parkinson Disease and Pelvic Rehabilitation, scheduled for July 23-24, 2021.
Parkinson disease (PD) non-motor symptoms can be even more impactful on quality of life than the cardinal motor symptoms most are familiar with, bradykinesia, rigidity, tremor, and postural instability. The list of non-motor symptoms is extensive affecting many body systems including cognitive, sensory, and autonomic.
Constipation is one of the most common autonomic non-motor symptoms experienced by people with Parkinson disease with studies showing 20-89% prevalence (1). As the disease progresses, individuals are more likely to experience symptoms that suggest a strong relationship between neurodegeneration and bowel dysfunction, such as, decreased frequency of bowel movements, difficulty expelling stool, and diarrhea (2). Constipation has also been hypothesized to be an early indicator for the development of Parkinson disease, and there is ongoing research in this area. It has yet to be shown that constipation is specific enough to predict the development of PD.
Developing an understanding of Parkinson disease constipation and how it differs from other individuals with constipation can have a strong impact on our recommended pelvic rehabilitation plans of care. In a study published by Zhang, M. et al., 2021, they looked at the characteristics of Parkinson disease with constipation (PDC) compared to functional constipation (FC). Functional constipation is generally defined as difficult, infrequent, or incomplete defecations (3). One of the main findings in this study was a significant difference between the groups when looking at resting rectal and anal canal pressures. In the PDC group, resting rectal and anal pressures were significantly lower. These resting pressures are mainly controlled by the internal anal sphincter resting tension which is supported by the autonomic nervous system. This leads the researchers to speculate there may be autonomic nervous system neuropathy in people with PD
They then looked at simulated defecation, which also showed that the PDC group had significantly lower rectal defecation pressure and a lower anal relaxation rate. Since rectal pressures during defecation assist in effective anal relaxation, the researchers state, “a coordinated movement disorder results” and that people with PD may have “pelvic floor cooperative motion disorder” (1). Additionally, the researchers noted that abnormal abdominal pressure is another main contributing factor to the low rectal defecatory pressure in PDC. Abdominal pressure is a key factor in driving complete and efficient rectal defecation. This is also a finding in numerous other studies in the literature unique in PDC.
The results of Zhang, M. et al., 2021 reveal the need for pelvic health practitioners to help train coordinated defecation efforts in people with Parkinson disease. In my course, Parkinson disease and Pelvic Rehab, we will have an in-depth discussion about how training defecatory dynamics is different in people with PD. Muscle training principles in this population are very unique. Understanding the underlying causal factors of dysfunction will have a significant impact when helping patients with Parkinson disease manage constipation.
This blog contains an interview with Alyson N Lowrey, PT, DPT, OCS. Alyson treats the pelvic floor patient population through an orthopedic approach, working closely with pelvic floor specialists. Alyson’s clinical interests include evaluation/treatment of chronic pain, lumbar and cervical spine disorders, foot and ankle disorders, pelvic pain, and clinical instruction. Alyson is the co-instructor for the new H&W course, Pain Science for the Chronic Pelvic Pain Population - Remote Course scheduled for July 17-18, 2021.
Q: Who are you? Describe your clinical practice.
A: I work in an outpatient hospital-based clinic where I am able to provide true 1:1 care to patients of all ages and orthopedic conditions. Since pelvic floor therapy came to our clinic, I have developed strong clinical and personal relationships with pelvic floor therapists. We have been able to successfully combine our respective expertise into a wholistic approach for improving patient’s functional outcomes. My knowledge and relationships with pelvic floor therapy have allowed me as an ortho clinician to recognize when a patient’s dysfunction may have a pelvic floor component and refer appropriately. I am also in a unique opportunity where my pelvic floor colleagues will co-treat or transition care of a patient to me to continue to improve their overall function by providing functional strengthening and neuromuscular re-education to the pelvic floor musculature and other supportive muscular systems. This relationship also allows us to treat comorbid orthopedic conditions and pelvic dysfunctions such as low back pain or SIJ dysfunction as well.
Q: How did you get involved in the pelvic rehabilitation field?
A: I became involved with pelvic rehabilitation through working in a clinic with Tara Sullivan. Her knowledge is immense and our working relationship has shaped and changed how I assess patients. My practice has expanded drastically knowing so much more about pelvic floor dysfunction. I also have personal struggles with pelvic pain, which has given me a patient’s perspective as well on how important pelvic rehabilitation is.
Q: If you could get a message out to other clinicians about pelvic rehab what would it be?
A: I would encourage all ortho clinicians to educate themselves on pelvic rehab. Pelvic rehab is not yet fully integrated into our DPT curriculums and is often treated as a very separate area of dysfunction. Integrating pelvic floor function and dysfunction into my ortho world has drastically changed how I see and treat many patients.
Q: What made you want to create this course, Pain Science for the Chronic Pelvic Pain Population?
A: Tara and I wanted to create this course to help other clinicians become more proficient at treating chronic pain. A large portion of our caseloads is chronic pain both generally and with pelvic conditions. Patients with these conditions are often overlooked and not treated appropriately by the medical system at large. They are often dismissed or mislead that they have something drastically wrong with them, or worse, nothing wrong with them at all. This population often has the most functional deficits and the worst clinical outcomes. We want to change that.
Q: What need does your course fill in the field of pelvic rehabilitation?
A: There is a need in rehabilitation and medicine to understand pain from a biopsychosocial approach and to treat chronic pain conditions from that perspective. Pain is complex, and treatment is complex. Chronic pelvic pain is a subdivision of prevalent chronic pain that is not talked about or treated often enough.
Q: Who, what demographic, would benefit from your course?
A: Any clinician who treats chronic pain conditions can benefit from this course.
If you would like to learn more about chronic pelvic pain, you can join Alyson at Pain Science for the Chronic Pelvic Pain Population - Remote Course scheduled for July 17-18, 2021.
Tina Allen, PT, PRPC has been a physical therapist since 1993 and has specialized exclusively in pelvic health in all genders and throughout the patient's life span for the past 28 years. She works at the University of Washington Medical Center in a multidisciplinary Pelvic Health Clinic where she collaborates with physicians to optimize patient recovery.
Manual Therapy for the Abdominal Wall instructs participants on manual myofascial techniques that can be utilized to assist with the treatment of abdominal scars, endometriosis, IC/PBS, and abdominal wall restrictions that impact pelvic girdle dysfunction. The abdominal wall plays an intricate role in our general movement, digestion, continence, and support.
Scar tissue limits range of motion and can perpetuate pain and dysfunctional movement. Myofascial techniques can loosen and break up scar tissue to restore normal function. This manual therapy should be performed in a slow and precise manner that can stimulate the nervous system and can be used to effectively treat several conditions including trauma, inflammatory responses, post-surgical procedures, and postural conditions.
The abdominal wall needs to allow for mobility of our organs and stability of our trunk. The superficial and deep fascial of the abdominal wall have direct connections to the pelvic floor fascia. They contribute to supportive dysfunction and myofascial restriction of the perineum with pelvic pain. Lumbar nerves travel through the abdominal wall, have sensory innervation in the perineum, and can be a source of testicular, labial, clitoral and scrotal pain. By addressing the abdominal wall with manual therapy techniques, we can further our patients' recovery.
In the upcoming 5-hour short format remote course, Manual Therapy for the Abdominal Wall, we will discuss: general myofascial interventions, the anatomy of the abdominal wall (including fascial and nerve connections with the pelvic floor), evaluation/assessment techniques of the abdominal wall, and via video and discussion we will cover techniques utilized in treating the abdominal wall myofascial tissues. Further discussion will include case studies and how we can apply these same techniques to the perineum.
Holly Tanner, PT, DPT, MA, OCS, WCS, PRPC, LMP, BCB-PMB, CCI is a faculty member and the Director of Education at Herman & Wallace. She owns a private practice that focuses on pelvic rehabilitation and on chronic myofascial pain. Along with H&W faculty member Stacey Futterman, she co-authored the Male Pelvic Floor course.
In the US, vasectomy is one of the most common procedures performed, and it is often completed in an outpatient setting with a local anesthetic. Fortunately for most folks, it’s well-tolerated and the advice to rest and ice is enough to allow full recovery. Unfortunately, there are those who don’t recover with ease and are left with chronic pain complications. This is a population that is often left out of the clinical rehabilitation setting, and there is not yet robust literature to catch up with the positive clinical results pelvic rehab providers observe when treating post-vasectomy pain.
The goal of a vasectomy is typically contraception. The tube known as either the vas deferens or the ductus deferens is interrupted so that sperm does not travel to its typical destination outside the body via the urethra. This disruption in the tube takes place within the spermatic cord as it passes through the scrotum as this area is easily accessible. There are several techniques that can disrupt the tube where the sperm travels including, but not limited to, clamping, cauterization, or excision. The procedure leaves a small incision in the scrotal tissue.
Complications of a vasectomy may include bleeding and hematoma, infection, sperm granuloma (discussed below), chronic scrotal pain, seminal vesicle abscess (rare), and early or late canalization. (Sihra et al., 2007) Interestingly, some patients report less pain after vasectomy. (Leslie et al., 2007) Theories about the cause of post-vasectomy pain include interstitial fibrosis in the epididymal duct and perineurial fibrosis. (Lee et al., 2012) When we consider the anatomy, within the canal there may also be nerve irritation from the genitofemoral nerve, for example, or other connective tissues. If a patient had pain prior to the procedure in the low back, lower abdomen, or groin, the patient’s system may have been vulnerable to complications due to a sensitized system.
Examination & Rehab Efforts
When a patient presents with pain post-vasectomy, symptoms may worsen with prolonged sitting, with pressure from clothing, or in association with sexual or fitness activities. Because there has been a local insult to the tissues, it is logical to check the site of the procedure for any breakdown, signs of significant inflammation, swelling, and to examine for signs of infection such as fever. (Most patients have returned to their medical provider once pain develops, but if they haven’t, a referral is appropriate.) If the pain can be reproduced locally at the site of the procedure, the pain can often be managed by local treatment. You might find benefit in exam procedures such as a trunk or hip extension for the soft tissue tensioning as well as mechanical loading; palpation to the abdominal wall as well as within the spermatic cord. Treatment can address guarding of the area, general wellness (nutrition, movement, mental health), simple modalities such as heat, and gentle self-mobilization to the painful area.
Granulomas can form following a vasectomy, and while usually asymptomatic, a granuloma may be responsible for post-vasectomy pain. They are described as a “bag-like” structure with disintegrating spermatozoa that form at the cut ends of a vasectomy. (Chatterjee et al., 2001) If the granuloma is painful, very light manual mobilization of the thickened area may be done to alleviate pain (see image below). Mobilization of the spermatic cord itself via the testicle or more proximally may also prove helpful. Local modalities such as ultrasound or heat may improve symptoms as well, but clinically I have found that gentle manual therapy and movement exercises are enough to resolve the pain within a few weeks. Patients can be instructed to complete self-mobilization to the area of the granuloma, and as they often are scared to touch the area, helping alleviate this fear is useful in healing.
Post-vasectomy syndrome is very challenging for patients to manage, as they are often dismissed once the procedure is completed. Patients will share that they have been told “everything looks healed” and that the pain should go away on its own. Most providers are unaware of the role of pelvic rehab clinicians, and many pelvic rehab providers are less knowledgeable about conditions related to the scrotum and spermatic cord. For patients who do not respond to conservative intervention, vasectomy reversals have been found to be significantly helpful in reducing pain, though it’s often undesired due to the goal of contraception that inspired the vasectomy. (Herrel et al., 2015; Polackwith et al., 2015). Ideally, patients will be provided with an early recommendation to pelvic rehab so that further procedures or undoing of the vasectomy is avoided.
If you’d like to learn more about post-vasectomy syndrome and many other conditions that can go unrecognized and under-treated, the next opportunity to take the Male Pelvic Floor course is coming up July 9-10,2021!
Herman & Wallace currently has satellite courses, remote courses, and online courses offered through our partner, Medbridge. These online courses provide education and patient engagement tools for pelvic floor dysfunction. H&W faculty have put together a collection of online continuing education courses with our partners at MedBridge. These convenient learning resources and can be purchased individually or as part of an annual subscription
The truth is that we all have hectic busy schedules that can make setting aside time for a live course can be difficult. Annual subscribers get access to all 800+ courses on the Medbridge site, their Home Exercise Program, and Patient Engagement platforms! As a Herman & Wallace referral, you are eligible for a discounted subscription with access to all of the content at MedBridge with promo code HWoverview.
Heather Rader, PT, DPT, PRPC, BCB-PMD recorded a new series for Medbridge last summer. Her courses explore:
The Medbridge online course catalog contains an in-depth physical therapy section with many familiar instructors including Holly Tanner and Steven Dischiavi. These online courses are a great way for pelvic rehabilitation specialists to gain knowledge and skills and complete CEU requirements without having to commit to a predetermined schedule.
Herman & Wallace continuing education courses are developed and instructed by our nationally recognized faculty members. Contact hours vary by course and may apply towards continuing education requirements according to each state.
The following is our interview with Jazma Dobbins PT, DPT, PRPC, CAPP-Pelvic. Jazma recently passed the Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner Certification (PRPC) exam. She practices in at TherapySouth in Gadsen, AL and is a Teaching Assistant for local Alabama satellite courses with H&W. Jazma was kind enough to share some thoughts about her career with us. Thank you, Jazma - and congratulations on receiving your PRPC!
Q: How did you get involved in the pelvic rehabilitation field?
A: Educating others about ways to empower themselves through healthcare advocacy is extremely important to me. I knew I wanted to be a pelvic health physical therapist the moment I read a similarly titled article in a women’s health magazine over 10 years ago. I was experiencing painful intercourse and urge incontinence. I was 20 years old and felt ashamed, abnormal, and alone. I had been given the unfortunate advice of “try drinking wine to relax” and “never drink alcohol if you have urge incontinence." So many inconsistencies to my young and frustrated mind.
That is when it dawned on me that I could do that, I could be a pelvic health physical therapist. Then we would have that service in my community. I was certain, and rightly so, that there were plenty of other women (I did not yet know of men’s health issues) who needed these services.
Q: What has your educational journey as a pelvic rehab therapist looked like?
A: I started my pelvic rehab education journey as a third-year student in PT school. I took the pelvic health level 1 course through the then called Section on Women’s Health. Needless to say, I was hooked on pelvic rehab. Over the following year, I completed the APTA pelvic series and earned my CAPP-Pelvic. In 2019 I did the Coccydynia and painful sitting course through Herman and Wallace and fell in love with H&W! Since then, I have had the pleasure of being a Teaching Assistant for multiple H&W courses.
Q: What do you love about assisting at courses?
A: What I love most about serving as a teaching assistant is the opportunity to learn from the participants. I have yet to TA a course where I didn’t learn a new skill or thought process. I love to TA the pelvic level 1 course most of all because of the eagerness and anticipation around learning a whole new world of what PT can do for our clients. I love to spread energy and passion and help create an environment of truly nonjudgmental learning.
Q: What is your message to course participants who are just starting their journey?
A: Keep pursuing your passion! Let no learning opportunity go unutilized and never stop learning!
This blog contains excerpts from an interview with Tara Sullivan, PT, DPT, PRPC, WCS, IF. Tara started in the healthcare field as a massage therapist, practicing over ten years including three years of teaching massage and anatomy and physiology. Tara has specialized exclusively in Pelvic Floor Dysfunction treating bowel, bladder, sexual dysfunctions, and pelvic pain since 2012.
Acute pain can indicate specific injury to the body. Chronic pain is very different. With Chronic Pelvic Pain (CPP) the initial injury has healed, but the pain continues because of changes in the nervous system, muscles, and tissues. Recognizing that the nervous system influences pain perception, especially in the chronic pelvic pain population, is the first step in treating these patients, but is it enough? Tara Sullivan and Alyson Lowrey are presenting a new remote course on chronic pelvic pain called Pain Science for the Chronic Pelvic Pain Population scheduled for July 17-18, 2021.
The medical definition of pain is an unpleasant feeling that is conveyed to the brain by sensory neurons. Pain is a universal experience that serves to alert the brain to potential damage to the body. It performs the function of triggering avoidance to preserve itself from harm. Oddly, the strength and unpleasantness of pain is not directly related to the nature or extent of the damage.
When the pain signal remains active in the nervous system for longer than six months and persists after the triggering event has healed, then it is cataloged as chronic pain. There is another layer when experiencing chronic pain known as central sensitization. This is an increased responsiveness of the nervous system that results in hypersensitivity and an increased pain response outside the area of injury. Pain itself can produce systematic and chemical brain changes resulting in more pain from fewer stimuli.
The course, Pain Science for the Chronic Pelvic Pain Population, offers tools to recognize when sensitization may be playing a role and provides the framework needed to apply pain science to the chronic pelvic pain population. In this course, you will gain an understanding and expand your knowledge on how pain science specifically presents in patients suffering from endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, primary dysmenorrhea, pelvic floor muscle overactivity, vulvodynia/vestibulodynia, vaginismus, and prostatitis.
Case studies and specific intervention techniques, including how to explain pain to a patient, are discussed so participants leave with the confidence to address the missing link in treating your patient’s chronic pelvic pain. We will also discuss how common rehab interventions such as manual therapy, dry needling, biofeedback, graded exposure, and therapeutic exercise assist in downregulating the nervous system.
On July 17-18th, 2021, Alyson Lowrey and Tara Sullivan team up to give you their combined experience of orthopedic and pelvic health in treating this population in the course Pain Science for the Chronic Pelvic Pain Population.