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Musculoskeletal Screening of Pelvic Pain for Physicians and Physical Therapists

In the United States, estimated direct medical costs for outpatient visits for chronic pelvic pain (CPP) is more than $2.8 billion per year.1 In a 2017 study in the Clinical Journal of Pain by Sanses et al, a detailed musculoskeletal exam of clients with CPP can assist both physicians as well as physical therapists in differential diagnosis and appropriate referrals for this population.

Evaluating a client with pelvic pain requires a skill set that includes direct pelvic floor as well as musculoskeletal test item clusters. The prioritization of which depends upon many factors including clinician discipline, experience, specialty vs. general setting, as well as client history, presentation and goals. In addition to the direct pelvic floor assessment, there are additional key musculoskeletal screening tests that are an essential part of a pelvic pain assessment. New this year, my course Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain will incorporate the use of Real Time Ultrasound in neuromuscular assessment and re-education of the pelvic floor and abdominal wall during the Sunday morning lab session.

Peery et al (2012) noted that abdominal pain was one of the most common presenting reasons for an outpatient physician visit in the United States. Abdominal pain is one of the many complaints that our clients may report requiring differential diagnosis including urogynecologic, colorectal, musculoskeletal, visceral or neurogenic causes. Lower abdominal quadrant pain may denote serious emergent pathology. Clinical findings, physical exam and client symptoms in addition to smart differential diagnosis must be used to determine if the abdominal pain is musculoskeletal in nature. Direct access requires physical therapists to perform a skilled initial screening for abdominal pain in order to determine if it is abdominal wall versus a visceral origin. Physicians are fluent in ruling out emergent pathology but may not be familiar with musculoskeletal tests for non-emergent pathology. Assessment of bowel and bladder function and habits are essential to perform. This blog specifically addresses three physical exam tests that can be performed as part of abdominal wall pain screening. According to Cartwright et al, the location of the abdominal pain should drive the evaluation.

Carnett’s test is a simple clinical test that assesses abdominal pain response when a client tenses their abdominal muscles. A positive Carnett’s sign denotes the origin of symptoms within the abdominal wall with a negative tests suggesting intra-abdominal pathology. The test is performed in supine, the clinician gently palpating the area of abdominal pain and has the client lift their head and shoulders off the table. Conditions such as myofascial trigger points, scar and muscular pain would be flared with palpation of the contractile tissue with activation of the abdominal wall muscles. If the pain is due to visceral origin, appendicitis for example, the pain would remain unchanged with palpation with head lift. Although some perform Carnett’s test by lifting both legs off the table, this method may cause unnecessary pain in clients with poor lumbopelvic control. (Figure 1) The head and shoulder lift option is felt to be comparable method of performing Carnett’s test.

Blumberg’s sign is most commonly used to rule in appendicitis, peritonitis or a visceral driver of right lower quadrant pain. The test is performed by the clinician applying deep pressure over McBurney’s point (Figure 2) with an abrupt and rapid release of pressure. Although there are anatomical variations in appendix location, pain reproduction is consistent with a positive test and immediate referral to the ER is indicated.

Thoracic dysfunction, including disc herniation, can result in abdominal pain.2 In thoracic discogenic driven abdominal pain, symptoms would likely be exacerbated by coughing, sneezing, spinal flexion and activities that would increase spinal loading. A simple screening for this is seated thoracic traction. If the client reports reduction or resolution of symptoms with traction, further musculoskeletal tests including regional movement and PIVM testing could be implemented to rule in or rule out need for diagnostic imaging.

Thoracic Traction Demonstration
Caption: Thoracic traction requires the clinician gently squeeze the client’s thorax with their elbows while straightening their knees to create gentle unweighting traction to the client’s spine. Gentle shoulder shrugging will occur with the client. If the thoracic spine is a contributing factor to abdominal or pelvic pain, the client’s symptoms will be reduced with traction and further musculoskeletal evaluation and prescription is indicated. Photo credit: www.CorePhysioPT.com

In the Herman Wallace course “Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain” participants learn a comprehensive musculoskeletal screen including abdominal, neural mobility and conductivity, pelvic ring, pelvic floor and biomechanical contributing factors to pelvic pain. Evidence based test item clusters are defined, along with their diagnostic accuracy, for all associated systems in order to outline a comprehensive screen for pelvic pain clients. To learn more about musculoskeletal screening for pelvic pain, check out faculty member Elizabeth Hampton PT, DPT, WCS, PRPC, BCB-PMD’s course Finding the Driver of Pelvic Pain, which is next offered Jun 28, 2019 - Jun 30, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. We are fortunate to have Dick Poore, President of The Prometheus Group present on Sunday June 30th for technical support for the Real Time Ultrasound portion of the course.


1. Sanses et al. "The Pelvis and Beyond: Musculoskeletal Tender Points in Women with Chronic Pelvic Pain". Clin. J. Pain. 2016 Aug. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000307
2. Papadakos et al. "Thoracic Disc Prolapse Presenting with Abdominal Pain: Case Report and Review of the Literature". Ann. R. Coll. Surg. Engl. 20019 Jul. doi: 10.1308/147870809X401038

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Questions from Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain

Elizabeth Hampton PT, DPT, WCS, BCB-PMD

I’m Elizabeth Hampton PT, DPT, WCS, BCB-PMD and I teach “Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain”, which offers practitioners a systematic screening approach to rule in or rule out contributing factors to pelvic pain. This course helps clinicians to understand and screen for the common co-morbidities associated with pelvic floor dysfunction, like labral tears, discogenic low back pain, nerve entrapments, coccygeal dysfunction, and more. Importantly, it also coaches clinicians to organize information in a way that enables them to prioritize interventions in complex cases. I've noticed that there are some questions that course participants frequently have as they talk through common themes in their care challenges and wrote this blog to share some clinical pearls you may find to be helpful for your own practice or as an explanation to your clients.
Here are some of the most common questions that I get when teaching Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain:
 
1) Question: How do I even start to organize information when a client has a complex history and I am feeling overwhelmed?
I write down a road map with key categories: Bowel and bladder; Spine; Sacroiliac Joint/Pubic Symphysis; Hip; Pelvic floor muscles; biomechanics; respiration; neural upregulation; whatever details can be fit into ‘big buckets’ of information. I use it to both organize my thoughts for my notes, as well as educate the client as to what my findings are and the design of their treatment program.
 
2) Question: How do you get your clients to do a bowel and bladder diary?
I am proud to say that I can talk anyone into a 7 day bowel and bladder diary because I tell them how incredibly helpful it is to understand the way their body responds to what they eat, drink, and daily habits. It’s my secret weapon to snag clients to start connecting with their body and listening to their details, educate about defecation ergonomics and what happens in multiple systems when there is pelvic floor overactivity. It’s a great teaching tool that facilitates self-reflection and how their self-care choices impact their body’s behavior.
 
3) Question: How do you educate clients about pelvic floor function so they don’t focus so much on Kegels?
Pelvic floor muscles do three things:

  • They contract gently, or powerfully, with no discomfort, and totally normal breathing; PFMs should have the same kind of nuanced control like your voice does: they should be able to do a gentle contraction, like a “whisper” or a powerful contraction, like a “shout”, depending on the task position and intent.

  • They relax fully and completely when the body is resting in support, or they should be able to relax to a supportive level when they are needed posturally. Relaxation should be its own celebrated event!

  • They should be able to relax and gently lengthen.

Faculty member Elizabeth Hampton PT, DPT, WCS, BCB-PMD is the author and instructor of Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain, a course designed to help practitioners utilize differential diagnosis in evaluating pain. Join Dr. Hampton in Portland, OR on July 27-29, 2018 or November 2-4, 2018 in Phoenix, AZ.

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Pelvic floor muscle activity as influencer or reactor?

Influencing pelvic floor EMG activity through hip joint mobilization and positioning

EMG is a helpful tool to observe pelvic floor muscle activity and how it is influenced by everything from regional musculoskeletal factors and mucosal health, to client motor control, awareness, and comfort.

In this post I will discuss the case of one client who was referred for dyspareunia treatment, and whose SEMG findings are outlined in Figures 1-3. She had validated test item clusters for right hip labral tear as well as femoral acetabular impingement, in addition to right sided pelvic floor muscle overactivity and sensitivity with less than 3 ounces of palpation pressure.

The figures below demonstrate peri-anal SEMG response of pelvic floor muscles within a single treatment session, which included sacral unloading in supine as well as hip joint mobilization to demonstrate the relationship between her pelvic floor and her hips. Our focus for this SEMG downtraining treatment was to enable her to understand the connection between her pelvic floor muscle holding patterns and her body’s preferences to remain out of ranges of motion that impinged and irritated her hip.

By creating a clear understanding of how the client could 'listen" to her muscle activity via SEMG (as well as her kinesthetic awareness of her own comfort), she began to understand the difference between body and hip position, her pelvic floor muscle activity, and her pain during intercourse.

Pelvic floor motor control with normalized respiration, orthopedic considerations of sexual activity, and other physical therapy as well as multidisciplinary treatments were integrated into her ability to resume intercourse. The lens of SEMG, however, was a powerful tool to help her make the connection between her hip and its influence on her pelvic floor overactivity and symptoms.

Musculoskeletal co-morbidities in pelvic pain are common, requiring the clinician to have a set of test item clusters to scan and clear key structures, as well as the ability to convey this information without creating distress to the client when positive findings are discovered. For example, labral tears and subchondral cysts are common findings in asymptomatic clients and physical therapy plays a key role in reducing client fear, avoiding symptom provocation, reducing regional muscle overactivity, as well as facilitating movement and strengthening in painfree ROM.

Although this case example describes intraarticular hip dysfunction as a driver of this clients PFM overactivity, Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain is a course that is designed to cover comprehensive key test item clusters for a fundamental pelvic pain scan exam of intrapelvic as well as extrapelvic drivers, to ensure the clinician understands the contributing factors that can influence or be influenced by the pelvic floor. This course is best suited for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants who are looking to create an organized approach to their scan exam for pelvic pain. For non-physical therapists, this can be a powerful introduction to the skill set and vocabulary needed to create a multidisciplinary team with a PT in the treatment of these clients.

FIGURE 1

PFM EMG at rest in supine, knees bent, feet on table (peri-anal SEMG electrode placement)  


FIGURE 2

Same position, only with sacral unweighting by placing folded towels on either side of sacrum, unweighting all pressure from sacrum. Immediate report of increased comfort in buttocks, hips and pelvis.

 

Figure 3

Supine, sacrum unweighted as in figure 2, after multidirecitonal hip joint mobilizaiton.


Groh, Herrera. A comprehensive review of hip labral tears. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2009 Jun; 2(2): 105–117. Published online 2009 Apr 7. doi: 10.1007/s12178-009-9052-9
Yosef, et al. Multifactorial contributors to the severity of chronic pelvic pain in women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Dec;215(6):760.e1-760.e14. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.07.023. Epub 2016 Jul 18.

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Intelligence and Emotions: How can we use all of our Skills to Diagnose Patients More Quickly?

You went through Herman and Wallace’s Pelvic Floor 1 course and were ready to treat your clients with incontinence and prolapse……….then you started getting referrals for clients with pelvic pain.

You have 45-60 minutes (or longer if you are lucky) to create a safe and comfortable environment, skillfully establish trust and rapport and gather objective and subjective data to get to the bottom of their pain. You want to give them the summary of your findings, their rehab road map and something to work on at home. By the end of the visit, you need to have completed their problem list and plan of care. Where do you start?

No pressure, right?

Clinicians are under a huge amount of pressure to get clients better and faster, which can result in rushing treatment before differential diagnosis is complete. A thorough approach enables us to say, with confidence, what the drivers of their condition are or at the very least what they are not. It is safe to say that no one single issue drives pelvic pain: it is a condition that is unique to each individual and requires a right AND left brain toolbox to unravel the ball of yarn that is pelvic pain.

A client with severe groin and labial pain was referred to my office for a second PT course of care. Her previous course of PT (by an outstanding clinician) focused on intrapelvic visceral work and postural corrections. The client’s pain had remained unchanged. Her visceral mobility, posture, joint biomechanics, neural upregulation, core muscle inhibition, myofascial trigger points, dysfunctional voiding and deconditioning were most definitely significant factors. The initial evaluation aligned with severe OA with a labral tear being the primary driver of her pain. I am no guru: it was with evidence-based sensitive and specific testing I was confident that this woman needed a new hip and that no amount of physical therapy could improve her pain as quickly or efficiently as a hip replacement. She DID need a customized PT pre-op course of care to prepare her for a great outcome. When she got a new hip, we incorporated all key factors into her post op rehab and she is back to her goals of hiking and having sex with her husband. (But not at the same time, as far as I know.)

Clinicians are under a huge amount of pressure to get clients better and faster, which can result in rushing treatment before differential diagnosis is complete

Before you jump to conclusions, I am not a surgery happy PT. I work with orthopedic surgeons and interventional pain docs as frequently as I work with Reiki healers, craniosacral therapists and acupuncturists. I want to fill my toolbox with right as well as left brained tools, from the most subtle of manual interventions and precise movement re-education to dynamic mobilization and strengthening interventions. As a profession we are called to utilize evidence-based treatment as well as innovative interventions that may be researched one day. Every evidence-based practice was once an unresearched clinical intervention based on clinical reasoning and perhaps gut instinct.

As pelvic health therapists, our work requires high EQ as well as IQ to earn client trust as well as differential diagnosis abilities to design their plan of care. Before we can ask for more visits, we need to justify the reasons behind the request based on solid clinical reasoning including objective data. Certainly in 45 minutes it can be difficult if not impossible to perform a comprehensive pelvic health and musculoskeletal evaluation. That being said, we need to address main categories of foundational evaluation testing to capture their data in a thorough manner.

Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain” is a course that enables the clinician to perform a foundational comprehensive musculoskeletal and pelvic health exam to find the evidence based factors in the client’s pain. We are called to deliver care that integrates both the art and science of physical therapy and healing. If we just use the ‘art’, or only the ‘science’, we miss key elements in our differential diagnosis which could delay the client getting better.

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How can we Quickly Make a Diagnosis of Complex Pelvic Pain Patients?

Today we get the opportunity to hear from Herman & Wallace faculty member Elizabeth Hampton PT, WCS, BCIA-PMB! Elizabeth has been kind enough to offer her insights about the diagnosis of pelvic rehabilitation patients. Join Elizabeth at Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain this November in Houston, TX in order to learn evaluation tools for complex pelvic pain clients!

Having taught for Herman and Wallace since 2006, I have a few observations that have been consistent over the years. Clinicians want their clients to get better, so much so that they are ready to jump in to treatment before having a solid problem list and validated findings. I can understand this: after a 3 day course we have clients Monday morning at 8 a.m. who have been waiting for us to take this course so we can get them better! We had better be smart ASAP! But what do we do when we are treating symptoms rather than understanding the primary, secondary and tertiary factors in their condition?

Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain is a course that is a foundational first step in screening the pelvic pain client. It is a great place to start. I developed the course because there was no evidence based comprehensive factors that had been established as fundamentals for screening a pelvic pain client.

The other thing I have learned after teaching Pelvic Floor Function, Dysfunction, & Treatment – Level 2B for 9 years is that the majority of clinicians who take this intermediate level course cannot perform a precise vulvar and intrapelvic muscle mapping assessment. Close your eyes and pretend you are mapping a client’s left iliococcygeus: can you place your finger in the proper orientation and know 100% you would be palpating it? Indeed, this takes training and repetition. Internal pelvic floor muscle mapping is a key part of the Finding the Driver screening system.

What do you do when you have a pelvic pain client on your schedule and a 45-60 minute slot? How do you screen findings and get the plan of care within such a short period of time? Finding the Driver is a comprehensive pelvic floor and musculoskeletal screening to rule in or rule out drivers of the pain from all sources including spine, pelvic ring, neural entrapment, intra-articular hip, load transfer, biomechanics and motor control. There is a clear flow to the screening process and an emphasis on how to organize that information, as we know with pelvic pain, it is the copious amount of information that is the challenge. We have two case studies with either participants or clients of a local Physical Therapist who come in and we go through the entire screen, prioritize treatment and provide that treatment during the course. The participants walk away with clear clinical reasoning for their treatment and prioritization of treatment as primary, secondary, and so on. The goal of the course is to help the clinician sort through the extraordinary amount of information we gather on our pelvic pain client and organize it in a way that we can explain to the client as well as create our plan of care. Treatment is not linear, as we are frequently treating many aspects at the same time. However being able to organize the information is key in designing that plan of care. For example, with a prone knee bend that reproduces labial pain, we find that the genitofemoral nerve is causing referred pain. However that referral may be due to constipation, irritable bowel, inguinal entrapment due to hernia surgery, intra-abdominal adhesions due to endometriosis, osteitis pubis or facilitated segment at the upper lumbar spine. How do we tease that out? How do you sequence nerve glide, visceral work, soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization and dietary components for colonic motility? The treatment with all of those components are very different indeed. Finding the Driver is a hands on course with systematic screening tools and, with case studies, we go through treatments appropriate to that client. The focus is on what we, as physical therapists, can do to understand the drivers.

At the last Finding the Driver course in Milwaukee, WI, we had two case studies in pelvic pain. One client reported chronic psoas and adductor tightness with deep left sided pelvic pain. As a professional aerialist, she was extraordinarily flexible and demonstrated positions of tightness that concerned her, which included lateral splits with her hips in slight horizontal abduction and extension (yes, yikes!) When she reported that her adductor felt tight in this position, I explained it was because it was trying to keep her leg attached to her body! She was 9/9 on the Beighton scale and had severe multidirectional instability in her hips, impaired load transfer through her pelvis, respiratory dysfunction with efforts at pelvic floor and transverse abdominis contraction, as well as repeated choice of activities that were profoundly provoking. Interestingly, she was better at load transfer during handstands (bilateral or unilateral) vs. in standing and we discussed her course of treatment addressing the primary, secondary and tertiary aspects of her condition. Another client had severe labial pain, and despite multiple abdominal and intravaginal surgeries, her symptom onset was 4 months prior. She certainly had visceral, postural, joint restrictions, movement dysfunction and many other factors. But her primary driver was a labral tear in her hip and she needed surgery. After surgery, her pain was 100% resolved and in her post op rehab, the other factors could be addressed.

It is safe to say that it can be difficult to perform a comprehensive screen in 45-60 minutes on ALL clients. We all know that many of our clients need to tell their story and because of fear or previous negative history, we may choose as clinicians how to spend that session to best honor the needs of the client. That being said, Finding the Driver is a course which provides a solid start in differential diagnosis so you can drill down into more specifics on subsequent visits.

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Nerve Entrapments and Pelvic Pain

This post was written by Elizabeth Hampton PT, WCS, BCIA-PMB, who teaches the course Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain: Musculoskeletal Factors in Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. You can catch Elizabeth teaching this course in April in Milwaukee.

Blog by Elizabeth Hampton

Chronic pelvic pain has multifactorial etiology, which may include urogynecologic, colorectal, gastrointestinal, sexual, neuropsychiatric, neurological and musculoskeletal disorders. (Biasi et al 2014) Herman and Wallace faculty member, Elizabeth Hampton PT, WCS, BCB-PMD has developed an evidence based systematic screen for pelvic pain that she presents in her course “Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain”. One possible origin of pelvic pain as well as chronic psoas pain and hypertonus may arise from genitofemoral, ilioinguinal or iliohypogastric neuralgia, the screening of which is addressed in the “Finding the Driver” extrapelvic exam.

The iliohypogastric nerve arises from the anterior ramus of the L1 spinal nerve and is contributed to by the subcostal nerve arising from T12. This sensory nerve travels laterally through the psoas major and quadratus lumborum deep to the kidneys, piercing the transverse abdominis and dividing into the lateral and anterior cutaneous branches between the TVA and internal oblique. The anterior cutaneous branch provides suprapubic sensation and the lateral cutaneous branch provides sensation to the superiolateral gluteal area, lateral to the area innervated by the superior cluneal nerve. (10)

The ilioinguinal nerve arises from the L1 spinal levels, passes through the psoas major inferior to the iliohypogastric nerve, across the quadratus lumborum and iliacus and lastly through the transversus abdominis along with the iliohypogastric nerve between the transverse abdominis and the internal oblique muscle. (7) The ilioinguinal nerve supplies the skin of the medial thigh, upper part of the scrotum/labia as well as penile root (5).

The genitofemoral nerve arises from the L1 and L2 spinal levels and splits into the genital and femoral branches after passing through the psoas muscle. (1). The genital branch (motor and sensory) passes through the inguinal canal and innervates the upper area of the scrotum of men. In women it runs alongside the round ligament and innervates the area of the skin of the mons pubis and labia majora. The motor function of the genital branch is associated with the cremasteric reflex. The femoral (sensory) branch runs alongside the external iliac artery, through the inguinal canal and innervates the skin of the upper anterior thigh. (8)

Differential diagnosis of entrapment of one of the three nerves can be challenging due to their overlapping sensory innervations and anatomic variability. Rab et al found up to 4 different patterns of anatomical variability in these nerve pathways. (9)

Transient or lasting genitofemoral, ilioinguinal and iliohypogastric neuralgia results from compression or irritation of these nerves anywhere along their pathway: from their spinal origin to distal pathways. Cesmebasi at al report that “neuropathy can result in paresthesias, burning pain, and hypoalgesia associated with the nerve distributions. “ (11) These entrapments may be associated with surgery, T12-L2 segmental dysfunction or HNP, constipation and is commonly observed clinically alongside psoas overactivity and pain. Lichtenstein found that up groin pain after hernia surgery ranged from 6-29% with Bischoff et al (2012) (6) denoting the post-operative neuralgia ranging from 5-10%.

Differential diagnosis of nerve entrapments are key skills in the screening of musculoskeletal contributing factors to pelvic pain and physical therapists are uniquely skilled to put all of the puzzle pieces together in these complex clients. Finding the Driver is being offered twice in 2015: April 23-25, 2015 at Marquette University and again in the fall. Check Herman & Wallace's webite for further details.

http://www.gotpaindocs.com/gentfmrl_nurlga.htm
Tubbs et al.Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. March 2005 / Vol. 2 / No. 3 / Pages 335-338. Anatomical landmarks for the lumbar plexus on the posterior abdominal wall. http://thejns.org/doi/abs/10.3171/spi.2005.2.3.0335
Phillips EH. Surgical Endoscopy. January 1995, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 16-21. Incidence of complications following laparoscopic hernioplasty
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00268-012-1657-2
Tsu W et al. World Journal of Surgery. October 2012, Volume 36, Issue 10, pp 2311-2319. Preservation Versus Division of Ilioinguinal Nerve on Open Mesh Repair of Inguinal Hernia: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
Bischoff JM. Hernia. October 2012, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 573-577. Does nerve identification during open inguinal herniorrhaphy reduce the risk of nerve damage and persistent pain?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilioinguinal_nerve
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genitofemoral_nerve
Rab M, Ebmer And J, Dellon AL.. Anatomic variability of the ilioinguinal and genitofemoral nerve: implications for the treatment of groin pain.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery [2001, 108(6):1618-1623].

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutaneous_innervation_of_the_lower_limbs
Cesmebasi et al (2014) Genitofemoral neuralgia: A review. Clinical Anatomy. Volume 28, Issue 1, pages 128–135, January 2015. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ca.22481/abstract

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Musculoskeletal Screening Model for Pelvic Pain

This post was written by H&W instructor Elizabeth Hampton. Elizabeth will be presenting her Finding the Driver course in Milwaukee in April!

ms or pfm exam

One of the most consistent questions that we hear at the Pelvic Floor 2B course is, “How do you choose between a pelvic floor and a musculoskeletal exam during your first visit with a pelvic pain client?” The answer depends on a number of factors, which include your clinical reasoning, toolbox, the client’s presentation, the clinical specialty, and expectations of the referring provider as well as the expectations of the client. It can be stressful to imagine gathering a detailed history, testing, client education and a home program within the first visit! Now that we have less time and total visits to evaluate and treat these complex issues, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

Chronic pelvic pain has multifactorial etiology, which may include urogynecologic, colorectal, gastrointestinal, sexual, neuropsychiatric, neurological and musculoskeletal disorders. (Biasi et al 2014) Herman and Wallace faculty member, Elizabeth Hampton PT, WCS, BCB-PMD has developed an evidence based systematic screen for pelvic pain that she presents in her course “Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain”. “There are a number of extraordinary models that exist for treatment of pelvic pain including Diane Lee’s Integrated System of Function, Postural Restoration Institute, Institute of Physical Art and more,” states Hampton. “However, regardless of the treatment style and expertise of the clinician, each clinician should be able to perform fundamental tissue specific screening. If a client has L45 discogenic LBP with segmental hypermobility into extension, femoral acetabular impingement, urinary frequency > 12/day as well as constipation contributed to by puborectalis functional and structural shortness, all clinicians should be able to arrive at the same fundamental findings during their screening exam. The driver of the PFM overactivity(3) needs to be explored further as local treatment alone (biofeedback and downtraining) will not resolve until the condition causing the hypertonus is found and treated.” Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain is a course that models a comprehensive intrapelvic and extrapelvic screening exam with evidence based validated testing to rule out red flags, understand key factors in the client’s case as well as develop clinical reasoning for prioritizing treatment and plan of care. The screening exam complements any treatment model as it identifies tissue specific pain generators and structural condition, which will lead the clinician to follow their clinical reasoning and treatment model. Once the fundamentals are established, the clinician can move beyond screening and drill down into treatment of key factors which may include specific muscle gripping patterns, arthokinematic assessment and respiratory evaluation and retraining, among others.

Co-morbidities are common in pelvic pain are well documented (1, 2) and clinically these multiple factors are the reason pelvic pain is complex to evaluate and treat. Intrapelvic (urogynecologic, colorectal, sexual) as well as extrapelvic (orthopedic, neurologic, psychological and biomechanical clinical expertise) are required for skilled evaluation and treatment of this population. It is precisely this complexity, which makes working with pelvic pain clients challenging and extraordinarily rewarding. Physical therapists are uniquely skilled to put all of the puzzle pieces together in these complex clients. Finding the Driver is being offered twice in 2015: April 23-25, 2015 at Marquette University and again in the fall. Check Herman Wallace.com for further details.

1. Chronic pelvic pain: comorbidity between chronic musculoskeletal pain and vulvodynia. Reumatismo: 2014 6;66(1):87-91. Epub 2014 Jun 6. G Biasi, V Di Sabatino, A Ghizzani, M Galeazzi
2. http://www.jhasim.net/files/articlefiles/pdf/XASIM_Master_5_6_p306_315.pdf
3. IUGA/ICS Terminology for Female Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iuga.org/resource/resmgr/iuga_documents/iugaics_termdysfunction.pdf

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