Treating patients who have chronic pelvic pain is challenging for many reasons. The nature of chronic pain in any body site often means that the patient has a multifactorial presentation that requires a team approach to interventions. And because the pelvis also contains the termination of several body systems such as the urologic, reproductive, and gastrointestinal, there exists potential for addressing a musculoskeletal issue that is masking a medical issue which requires intervention by a medical provider. The phrase "When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" can be applied to patient care for any discipline. When a patient presents with chronic pelvic pain, pelvic rehabilitation therapists can usually find tender pelvic muscles to treat. Is the pelvic muscle tenderness from guarding due to visceral pain or infection?
In a 2013 article in the journal General Practitioner, Dr Croton describes red flag symptoms in acute pelvic pain. These include pregnancy, pelvic or testicular masses, and vaginal bleeding and/or pain in postmenopausal women. During the history taking, patients can be asked about menstrual patterns, possibility of pregnancy, and sexual history. Further medical evaluation may include a pregnancy test, ultrasound, laparoscopy, and urine tests to rule out infection. While the above is not an exhaustive list, it reminds the pelvic rehabilitation provider to always keep in mind the potential for medical evaluation and intervention. Once a patient has been deemed to have "only chronic pelvic pain," a new, equally challenging list emerges: is the pain generated by an articular issue, myofascial dysfunction, neuropathy, psychological stress, or postural pattern? Is the pain local, such as in the pubis symphysis or in the sacroiliac joint ligaments, or are the symptoms referred from a nearby structure, such as the abdominal wall or the thoracolumbar junction? And what are the best methods to examine in a systematic way the various theories about the origins of a patient's pain?
Peter Philip has created a course to provide answers to the above questions. He combines skills in both orthopedics and manual therapy, and pulls from an extensive knowledge about pelvic pain and differential diagnosis which was the research topic of his Doctor of Science degree. Peter's course provides clearly instructed techniques in anatomical palpation, spinal and joint assessment, and he also instructs in how the nervous system and cognition can impact a patient's perception of pain. The course will be offered at the end of this month in Seattle- don't miss this chance to refine skills in differential diagnosis for chronic pelvic pain!