Some of those underdiagnosed conditions are endometriosis, adenomyosis, pelvic congestion and genetic abnormalities. A 2005 study found a majority of women suffering chronic pelvic pain had pelvic congestion, a condition marked by the presence of varicose veins in the ovaries and pelvis. The study also found overall, women who underwent a procedure called nonsurgical embolization experienced a 62 percent reduction in pain, and 85 to 95 percent of women reported improvement after the procedure.
TREATMENTS: Before considering surgery, most doctors encourage nonsurgical treatments for chronic pelvic pain including medications like anti-inflammatories, anticonvulsants, opiods and antidepressants; local nerve blocks; physical therapy; and psychotherapy. Botox injections provide relief in some cases. "A lot of women with chronic pelvic pain develop a muscle spasm in their pelvic floor, and Botox is very, very good at relaxing those muscles," Dr. Hibner said.
Surgeries are recommended in certain cases of pelvic pain, including to treat endometriosis or scar tissue, or to treat a condition called pudendal neuralgia. In a surgery called pudendal nerve compression, surgeons cut away ligaments that may be pressing on the pelvic nerve and put a protective sheath around to prevent pain from recurring. Some women seek hysterectomies to alleviate perstistent pain. In fact, according to the National Pain Foundation, about 12 percent of hysterectomies are performed to treat chronic pelvic pain. Success rates range from 60 percent to 95 percent, but some experts believe those rates may be exaggerated.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center