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Oct 22, 2014

How long do hot flashes last in a woman's life? One recent study asked this question by following 255 women from premenopause to natural menopause. The authors found that moderate to severe symptoms of hot flashes continued on average 5 years after the date of the woman's last period. Unfortunately, up to 1/3 of the women continued to report hot flashes 10 or more years after menopause. Results also found that risks for hot flashes were higher in women who were African-American or in obese, white women. Higher education level was found to be protective against hot flashes.


The Mayo clinic states that while the exact cause of hot flashes is not known, there are several factors that may influence their occurrence. Changes in reproductive hormones in addition to hypothalamic shifts create a sensitivity to even slight changes in temperature. Women can experience a wide range of menopausal symptoms, with hot flashes ranging from sudden feelings of warmth that occur a couple times per day to profuse sweating that can occur up to one time per hour.


Menopause.org is a helpful resource for our patients, and lifestyle changes are offered such as avoiding stress, breathing techniques, and creating strategies to maintain body temperature within a limited range. Hormonal treatment and non-hormonal options are also described on this site, and while certain hormonal options may be contraindicated for some patients, there are therapies such as sleeping medications that may improve quality of life for a woman who is suffering significant sleep disruption. Decisions to utilize hormonal drug therapy may depend on many factors, such as benefits to risk ratios, if the patient has her uterus, and age of the patient. Many nonprescription options are also available, with conflicting or little evidence to support many of the claims. Regardless of the remedy that a patient may take for her menopausal symptoms, keep in mind that all medications or supplements should be reported to the physician and/or pharmacist so that drug interactions can be screened. Even herbal supplements can have a negative impact on other drugs that a woman is taking, so she should always fully disclose her medications, supplements (including teas!), creams, and other natural remedies.


If you are working with more women in the perimenopausal period, you may have questions about the hormonal changes and effects on rehabilitation. Faculty member Michelle Lyons will offer her new continuing education course called Menopause: A Rehabilitation Approach. At this course she will systemic changes in menopause, bone health, perimenopausal pelvic floor issues, sexual health, weight management, and procedures such as hysterectomy. The next opportunity to take this course is in February in Orlando - what a great time to head to the sunshine!

Oct 16, 2014


Avulsion fractures refer to a forcible separation, or tearing away of bone due to a sudden and powerful contraction of muscle. This injury is most common in adolescents, with the as yet developing growth plates being a likely location of avulsion. A systematic review of the literature published in 2011 describes the pathology of pelvic avulsion fractures as "highly prevalent" among adolescent athletes. Additionally, patients who have mature skeletons and who have a history of prior surgical interventions to the bones are also at risk for pelvic avulsion fractures.


Avulsion fractures appear to occur most commonly during the eccentric phase of muscle activity during sporting activities. Pre-existing pain in hip or pelvis may be present, but is not a reliable predictive sign of subsequent fracture. Included in this review article were 48 case reports and case series of which 88% related to physical activity and the remaining 12% related to previous surgical procedures. Within the cases related to physical activity, the mean age of fracture in subjects was 16.8, with 84% being male. Activities in which subjects were involved involved included soccer, gymnastics, and running sports. In the cases related to surgery, mean age of fracture was 56.4, and 100% were female. All of the surgery-related cases presented in the literature were treated with conservative measures. Conservative care described included a period of bed rest for 3 days progressing to walking with crutches until the patient was able to walk without significant pain.


Symptoms reported by patients who have suffered an avulsion fracture of the pelvis may include reporting a popping sensation, local pain, and difficulty walking. Having had a bone harvest from the iliac crest may also predispose a patient to a subsequent avulsion fracture. The authors state that surgery may be considered when there is greater than 2 centimeters of displacement of the avulsion or if the ischial tuberosity is involved.


Oct 10, 2014

pregnant yoga

Do women who participate in yoga during pregnancy feel more optimistic, more powerful, and more well? Yes! This is the reply from a study involving 21 women who enrolled in a yoga class for six weeks. While twelve of the women had previously practiced yoga, none were currently practicing. The format of the class involved the following components: checking in (sharing the prior week's experiences), centering (visualization and breathing exercises), warm-up (neck rolls, shoulder exercises, and side stretches), yoga flow (yoga standing positions such as sun salutation), standing postures (balance, wall positions), mat work (seated postures and hip exercises), Savasana (modified to left side lying), and meditation.


Outcomes tools utilized in this study included the Life Orientation Test-Revised for measuring optimism, the Power as Knowing Participation in Change Tool version II for measuring sense of power, the Short-Form 12 Version 2.0, and the Well-being Picture Scale. Participants in the study were also given a journal to document time spent practicing yoga, and how they felt after practicing yoga, both physically and emotionally. The authors conclude that yoga as a self-care practice can be used to promote self-care and well-being in women who are pregnant.


Why are feelings of power, well-being, and optimism valuable for women who are pregnant? The authors discuss the literature which has suggested higher levels of adaptive coping in women with high-risk pregnancies, and the concept that optimism is associated with physical health. Previous studies about using yoga during pregnancy have proposed benefits to the mother both during her pregnancy as well as during labor and delivery. The authors of the study also describe power within the perspective of Rogers' science of unitary human beings, with sharing of interesting philosophical concepts such as resonancy, integrality, and diversity of the human-environmental field.


Oct 09, 2014

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about serious side effects of laxatives if not used according to the label or when used in the presence of certain comorbities. Sodium phosphate laxatives, according to the label, are to be taken as a single daily dose, and for no more than three days. In addition to the warning to contact a physician if the patient has kidney disease, cardiac conditions, or dehydration, the FDA advises patients to ask their physician before taking the drug with age older than 55, or when taking certain medications. These medications include: diuretics, angiotensin-converting (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).


Laxatives are grouped into different classes and have varied effects on a person's gastrointestinal system. The following is adapted from the Mayo Clinic's website and describes the main types of laxatives.


Laxative Type
Brand Example

Oral osmotics Draw water into the colon to improve passage of stool Miralax
Oral bulk formers Absorb water to form soft, bulky stool Metamucil
Oral stool softeners Add moisture to stool Surfak
Oral stimulants Trigger rhythmic contractions of intestinal wall Senekot
Rectal stimulants Trigger rhythmic contractions of intestinal wall Dulcolax

Because laxatives can interact with medications, asking about medication lists (including supplements and herbals) is important for pelvic rehabilitation providers. Even the teas available at the grocery store that are marketed to help with digestion and specifically, constipation, may work well and may interact with a patient's medications. If you are interested in learning more about laxatives, constipation, and promotion of bowel health with rehabilitation techniques, sign up for the Bowel Pathology and Function continuing education course. This course, written by faculty member Lila Abbate, has been well-received and aims to further the knowledge of therapists who are treating patients with bowel dysfunction. The next course is coming up next month in California!

Oct 06, 2014


What are the spontaneous mental images that women who have chronic pelvic pain report, and how might the positive or negative mental images relate to chronic pelvic pain? These questions are the focus of research published by authors from the UK in the journal Pain Medicine. Mental images are distinguished in this study from thoughts, or thinking in words, as mental images are "cognitions with sensory-perceptual qualities." These qualities are often visual, and may also be related to smell, touch, taste, and hearing. Ten women were interviewed, 8 of whom had a diagnosis of endometriosis or adenomyosis. The researchers explained that they wanted to learn more about the women's thoughts when in pain, and asked about any images that popped into their heads when in pain. Researchers asked other questions about images related to specific categories, while attempting to avoid offering any leading words during their interview. The patients' most significant mental image (chose by the patient) was then explored for content, triggers, related emotion, meaningfulness, activity impairment, and related behavioral changes.


Other data collected included the Brief Pain Inventory short form, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale, the Spontaneous Use of Imagery Scale, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Score, and the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview. The range of pain duration in the subjects was 3-20 years, with a mean age of 36.2. While every one of the ten women reported that pain was a trigger, other triggers for a negative mental image included movement, social gatherings, exercise, babies, anxiety, sex, sleep, talking about pain, and reminders of surgery or menstruation- in other words, common daily activities or experiences. The content of the most significant mental images included being raped, having "malicious demons" playing around the pelvis, bright lights in an operating room, being terrorized, feeling sad, helpless, anxious, angry, panicky, guilty, disgusted, horrified, and revulsed. The associated meanings were usually also quite negative in nature. The women reported active avoidance of the triggers when able, limiting activities such as social outings or physical activity. Positive or "coping" images were also reported, with images such as putting the pain into a box, mentally "rubbing pain" medication on the body, or imagining a loved one.


What does this information have to do with pelvic rehabilitation? This study utilized a cognitive-behavioral (CBT) framework, and aspects of CBT are tools that rehabilitation professionals utilize in daily practice. Simply put, a cognitive-behavioral approach addresses how a person's thoughts and feelings affect behavior. In rehabilitation, research studies have described how CBT is utilized in the physical therapy setting, and how therapists can be trained to use skills in CBT to help patients . We can engage patients in conversations about what negative images may be impacting movement, and what positive images may be utilized as healthy coping strategies. For more information about the mind and patient education, join us at Carolyn McManus's continuing education course Mindfulness-Based Biopsychosocial Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Pain which takes place next month in Seattle.

Oct 03, 2014

Dorsal Sacral Ligament

Several researchers have contributed to foundational literature in trunk control including Richardson, Snijders, and Hull. One study of interest completed by these authors and other colleagues assessed sacroiliac joint stability with contraction of the transversus abdominis muscles compared to contraction of all the lateral trunk muscles.


In this experiment, 13 healthy subjects without a history of low back pain participated in the tests. Eight men and five women with a mean age of 26 and who were able to complete the required muscle activations participated in the study. The subjects were positioned in prone, and electromyographic recordings as well as ultrasound imaging were used to verify the muscle activation patterns. To measure sacroiliac joint stiffness or laxity, Doppler imaging of vibrations was utilized. The theory of using vibration to measure joint stiffness includes that a transfer of vibration across a joint is best when the joint is more stiff, according to the authors.


The results of the study include a decrease in laxity (or an increase in stiffness) in the sacroiliac joint when either muscle patterns were used, however, when the transversus only was activated, laxity was decreased more than during a more global contraction.


Oct 02, 2014


The Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute is excited to offer continuing education courses this year in mindfulness and in meditation, which are not necessarily one in the same. However, each has a relationship with the other, and may be combined into lovely practices. More importantly, you may be wondering, "How does mindfulness fit into pelvic rehab?" Mindfulness or meditation has been applied to many pain diagnoses, and even to pelvic rehab conditions such as bowel or bladder dysfunction, and pelvic pain. (For some interesting reading about mindfulness and meditation, check out the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine's website by clicking here.


In this Canadian study, 14 women participated in four sessions of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy tailored to women with provoked vulvodynia (PVD). The sessions were spaced 2 weeks apart, and each session was 2 hours in length. The program included education in PVD and in pain neurophysiology, cognitive behavioral skills ("identifying problematic thoughts"), progressive muscle relaxation (contract-relax), and mindfulness exercises. The mindfulness exercises included eating meditation, mindfulness of breath, body scan and mindfulness of thoughts. The goal of this particular research article was to describe the women's thoughts about participation in the study activities. The authors report on six major themes from the study:

1)Feeling more normal and part of a community in the group setting
2)Positive psychological outcomes
3)Impact of relationship (supportive versus unsupportive partner)
4)Feeling of gratitude for group facilitators
5)Concern about barriers to continuing their mindfulness practice
6)Feelings of self-efficacy in being able to exert control over their pain


One of the major themes expressed by the participants in this study is that of feeling more "normal" through finding out that other women have the same symptoms and knowing that there are a myriad of symptoms associated with vestibulodynia. By participating in the study, women reported having improvements in self-esteem and feeling more optimistic about their challenges with physical activities such as sexual relationships. Carloyn McManus, who has degrees in both physical therapy and psychology, shares her expertise in our new course: Mindfulness-based Biopsychosocial Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Pain. The next opportunity to take this mindfulness continuing education course, and learn skills that you can immediately apply in mindfulness is this November in Seattle.

Sep 29, 2014

Consider how many times we have worked with a patient who refuses to participate in rehabilitation or cancels an appointment because of constipation. Also recall the high number of patients we treat who are in chronic pain and who are also likely taking an opioid medication for pain management. A well-known side effect of opioids is constipation, which can create a viscous cycle: taking the medication can mean having to strain to pass stool, or being bloated which can aggravate an already painful state. Not taking pain medications can increase pain levels, potentially decreasing physical activity levels, another cause for poor bowel function. A recent research article sheds light on this problem, pointing out that, despite a failure of medications in positively treating their constipation, patients are willing to continue on the current course of treatment.


The on-going longitudinal study in the USA, Canada, Germany, and the UK aims to assess the burden of opioid-induced constipation (OIC) in patients who have chronic pain that is not cancer-related. Patients were using at least 30 mg of opioids per day for more than four weeks and had self-reported opioid-induced constipation. For the 493 patients who met the inclusion criteria, retrospective chart reviews, on-line patient surveys, and physician surveys were utilized. Outcomes tools included the Patient Assessment of Constipation-Symptoms, Work Productivity and Activity Impairment Questionnaire-Specific Health Problem, EuroQOL 5 Dimensions, and Global Assessment of Treatment Benefit, Satisfaction, and Willingness to Continue. 62% of the patients were female, mean age in males and females was 52.6.


Patients complained of bowel dysfunction including abdominal pain and bloating, painful straining to defecate and having flatulence, rectal pain and bleeding, headaches, and having hard stools that were difficult to pass. Most of the patients (83%) wanted to have at least one bowel movement (BM) per day, yet the mean reported BM was 1.4 per week without use of laxatives, and 3.7 BM with use of laxatives. Natural or behavioral therapies were used by 84%, and 60% of the patients used at least 1 over-the-counter (OTC) laxative, 24% used 2 or more OTC laxatives, and 19% used one or more prescription laxatives. Unfortunately, 94% of the patients reported inadequate response to laxative use.


Current employment rates for the sample population was 27%, and of these patients, the average reports of missed work due to constipation issues was 4.6±11.9 hours of work over the past 7 days. Even worse, from a pain-management perspective, 49% of the patients reported "…moderate to complete interference with pain management resulting from their constipation." The authors conclude the following: "The prevalence of these symptoms suggests that patients may be undertreating their OIC and/or that the currently utilized therapies for the treatment of OIC may be lacking in efficacy and tolerability." Can we conclude that the under-treatment applies to a lack of pelvic rehabilitation intervention? Granted, opioid-induced constipation by nature of its effects on the gut will in turn affect peristalsis and hydration of stool. However, if a patient learns techniques to stimulate bowel activity, how to manage abdominal bloating and pain, and how to affect the nervous system in a positive way, perhaps less work (and leisure) time would be lost.

Sep 25, 2014

pregnant yoga

An article this year in Canadian Family Physician concludes that "…pregnant women should avoid practicing hot yoga during pregnancy." Have you ever had a pregnant patient ask you if she should use hot tubs, warm pools, use hot packs, exercise in the heat, or participate in hot yoga? As always, the answer to some of the questions may be "it depends," as many factors must be considered including the woman's age, fitness status, pre-pregnancy exercise routines, general health, level of risk, what part of the body she wants to expose to heat, and ability to modify the requested activity. And, most importantly, the biggest driving factors behind our response to our patients is this: is there any known risk for the mother and her baby, and what does her physician say? If there is any known risk to the mother and to the viability of her pregnancy, then we always want to err on the side of caution.


What about yoga? Can participating in a hot yoga class increase core temperature and put the growing fetus at risk? The linked clinical reference article above cites some of the following factors as potential reasons why a person should not participate in hot yoga during pregnancy.

•Elevated core temperatures can occur with fever, extreme exercise, saunas, and hot tubs

•First trimester hyperthermia may lead to neural tube defects, gastroschisis, esophageal atresia, omphalocele, and encephaly in the developing fetus

•Heat decreases time to exhaustion, potentially leading to over stretching, muscle and joint injuries

•High temperatures may increase the risk of dizziness or fainting due to effects on blood pressure


I can imagine the arguments from all sides of the story, and we know that, especially in a highly litigious society, a medical provider will always suggest the most conservative approach. When the stakes are inclusive of both a healthcare license and the maternal/fetal health of our clients, rehabilitation professionals must also be medically conservative and mindful of the most safe, and effective health practices. Several prior posts have discussed the benefits of yoga during pregnancy, and the article by Chan and colleagues acknowledges that for pregnant women participating in yoga the benefits can include increased quality of life, decreased stress and anxiety, decreased pain, and improved sleep. Is it reasonable, then, to suggest that a woman avoid hot yoga during pregnancy?


Sep 23, 2014

male sling

Surgery for prostate cancer can impair urinary function, and in the case of persistent urinary incontinence, patients may progress to surgical interventions. In order for physicians to conduct optimal patient counseling and surgical candidate selection for post-prostatectomy urinary incontinence (UI), the records of 95 patients were reviewed in this study. The patients were retrospectively placed into "ideal", n = 72, or "non-ideal", n = 23, categories based on chosen characteristics, and the results of their outcomes and satisfaction were consolidated. Men in the "ideal" group had the following characteristics: mild to moderate UI, external urethral sphincter that appeared intact on cystoscopy, no prior history of pelvic radiation or cryotherapy, no previous UI surgeries, volitional detrusor contraction with emptying of the bladder, and a post-void residual of < 100 mL. Patients who did not meet all listed criteria for the "ideal" group were placed into the "non-ideal" classification.


A cure for the surgery was considered total resolution of post-prostatectomy incontinence with the sling. Of the patients fitting into the ideal classification, 50% reported cure, and of the non-ideal group, 22% reported a cure. Satisfaction rates within the ideal group for the procedure were 92%, whereas the non-ideal group reported a 30% satisfaction. Although uncommon, complications occurring in both groups included prolonged pelvic pain and worsened urinary incontinence. The authors describe the importance of placing the correct amount of tension through the sling, and of leaving as much of the external urethral sphincter in place as possible. Another complication that occurred more frequently is that of acute urinary retention. In the ideal cohort, the 11 cases of urinary retention resolved within 6 weeks of surgery. Of interest is that 12 of the 23 men in the "non-ideal" category had to undergo further surgery with an artificial urethral sphincter.


This information can assist surgeons in guiding and advising patients about operative procedures for post-prostatectomy incontinence. (Ideally, every patient would "fail" a trial of pelvic rehabilitation prior to progressing to a surgery!) If a patient wishes to proceed with a sling surgery despite being in a "non-ideal" category, he could be advised of the known potential outcomes. This article offers support for pre-operative investigation techniques such as urodynamics. Our role as pelvic rehabilitation providers may allow us to discuss such research with patients and providers, and participate in discussions about the role of rehabilitation pre-operatively or post-operatively. If you would like to learn more about working with men who have pelvic floor dysfunctions, you still have time to book a flight to Orlando for the Male Pelvic Floor Function, Dysfunction, & Treatment course, where you can learn about male pelvic pain, incontinence and BPH, and male sexual dysfunction. This is the last opportunity to take this course this year!

Upcoming Continuing Education Courses

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - St. Louis, MO (SOLD OUT)
Dec 05, 2014 - Dec 07, 2014
Location: Washington University School of Medicine

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Omaha, NE (SOLD OUT!)
Dec 05, 2014 - Dec 07, 2014
Location: Methodist Physicians Clinic

Pelvic Floor Level 3 - Derby, CT
Dec 12, 2014 - Dec 14, 2014
Location: Griffin Hospital

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Oakland, CA (SOLD OUT)
Jan 09, 2015 - Jan 11, 2015
Location: Samuel Merritt University

Care of the Postpartum Patient - Santa Barbara, CA
Jan 10, 2015 - Jan 11, 2015
Location: Human Performace Center

Visceral Mobilization of the Urologic System - Fairlawn, NJ
Jan 16, 2015 - Jan 18, 2015
Location: Bella Physical Therapy

Sexual Medicine for Men and Women - Houston, TX
Jan 23, 2015 - Jan 25, 2015
Location: Women's Hospital of Texas

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Maywood, IL (SOLD OUT!)
Jan 23, 2015 - Jan 25, 2015
Location: Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine

Sacroiliac Joint Evaluation and Treatment - Seattle, WA
Jan 24, 2015 - Jan 25, 2015
Location: Pacific Medical Center

Menopause: A Rehabilitation Approach - Orlando, FL
Feb 21, 2015 - Feb 22, 2015
Location: Florida Hospital Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation

Breast Oncology - Phoenix, AZ
Feb 21, 2015 - Feb 22, 2015
Location: Spooner Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Houston, TX
Feb 27, 2015 - Mar 01, 2015
Location: Texas Children’s Hospital

Special Topics in Women's Health - San Diego, CA
Feb 28, 2015 - Mar 01, 2015
Location: Comprehensive Therapy Services

Care of the Pregnant Patient - Seattle, WA
Mar 07, 2015 - Mar 08, 2015
Location: Pacific Medical Center

Pelvic Floor Level 3 - Fairfield, CA
Mar 13, 2015 - Mar 15, 2015
Location: NorthBay HealthCare