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.
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.
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
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?
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].
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
The following is contributed by faculty member Ginger Garner, who teaches the Hib Labrum Injury course. You can read more about that course on the Herman & Wallace course page.
Hip labral injury (HLI) is a relatively new diagnosis in the last 10 years of orthopaedic and rehabilitative care. However, just because HLI is a new diagnosis doesn’t mean the injury is new. In fact, HLI is posited to be responsible for the premature aging and osteoarthritis of the hip joint and pelvis that leads to hip replacements. HLI is also a major source of hip pain, with groin pain being the most common subjective complaint.However, groin pain is not the only complaint that is associated with HLI. Pelvic pain commonly goes hand-in-hand with hip pain.
What does this mean for patients? If you have hip or pelvic pain you should be evaluated by an HLI specialist, which can be a PT, surgeon, or osteopath who has received additional training on managing HLI. It is critical that you see someone who specializes in HLI. If HLI or other hip or pelvic injury is suspected, it is important that you follow up with a physical therapist who has had advanced training in HLI rehab for the best chance of recovery.
I find the premenstrual cycle pain (usually 1-5 days before the cycle begins) is a common phenomenon with many women with HLI (operative and non-operative), which is an area that needs more attention in research. Some women say it feels like they have retorn their labrum, and as a result, they get fearful – which affects not just their physical functioning but their psychoemotional and social well-being.
They limit activity which can exacerbate faulty neuromuscular patterning and deconditioning and result in increased pain from faulty structural support. Their realm of social activity and self-efficacy can suffer, which is also not good for long-term well-being.
Additionally, sleep can be interrupted with HLI and pelvic pain, which can dysregulate the HPA (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal) Axis and cause further problems with issues like pain centralization, cortisol dysregulation, and digestion. A recent study correlated vulvodynia and FAI (femoracetabular impingement), a type of hip impingement commonly found with HLI. The study found that those women who received early surgical intervention received the most relief from vulvodynia, while those who had a longer duration of pain did not experience the same level of improvement.
The take-home message is that early intervention for HLI is absolutely critical for the best long-term prognosis, and that pelvic pain, which can include anything from vulvodynia, dyspareunia, interstitial cystitis, non-relaxing pelvic floor/myalgia, pudendal neuralgia or entrapment, athletic pubalgia, and/or continence issues, although a common occurrence with HLI, is not normal and should be addressed by a trained pelvic rehab professional.
Want more? Read my post about Hip Labrum Tear Risk: Why Early Care is Critical, is absolutely necessary for the best long-term prognosis.
Today's post on the Pelvic Rehab Report comes from faculty member Allison Ariail, PT, DPT, CLT-LANA, BCB-PMD, PRPC. Allison instructs the ultrasound imaging courses, the next of which will be Rehabilitative Ultra Sound Imaging: Women's Health and Orthopedic Topics in Baltimore, MD on Jun 12, 2015 - Jun 14, 2015.
In the past several decades there has been quite a bit of research regarding stabilization of the low back and pelvic ring. We as therapists have changed our focus from working more of the global stabilization muscles to the local stabilizing muscles; the transverse abdominis, the lumbar multifidus, and the pelvic floor. Both research studies and clinical experience has shown us what a positive difference working on these muscles can makes for back pain and pelvic ring pain, as well as for the risk of injury in the back and pelvic ring. However, what does it do for risk of injury for the lower limb? In 2014, Hides and Stanton published a study looking at the effects of motor control training on lower extremity injury in Australian professional football players. A pre- and post-intervention trial was used during the playing season of the Australian football league as a panel design. Assessment included magnetic resonance imaging and measurements of the cross-sectional area of the multifidus, psoas, and quadratus lumborum, as well as the change in trunk cross-sectional area due to voluntary contraction of the transverse abdominis muscle. A motor control program included training of the multifidus, transversus abdominis, and the pelvic floor muscles using ultrasound imaging for feedback that then progressed into a functional rehabilitation program was used with some of the players. Injury data was collected throughout the study. Results showed that a smaller multifidus or quadratus lumborum was predictive of lower limb injury during the playing season. Additionally, the risk of sustaining a severe injury was lower for players who received the motor control intervention.
This is interesting and intriguing information. Yes, there are many factors that are involved in sustaining an injury during a sport. However, it would be a good idea to do a quick screen of the local stabilizing muscles before a playing season, whether it is a professional player or an adolescent player. Do adolescents really have issues with weakness in their local stabilizing muscles? Yes! Clinically I have seen adolescent players who display back pain and other issues related to weakness in their core muscles. Usually this occurs after they have gone through a growth spurt, but some of these adolescent athletes did not recover, even several years after the large growth spurt.
What a nice community service it would be to screen a local sports team for strength of the local stabilizing muscles in order to decrease injuries! It would also be nice to see additional research regarding this topic! To learn more about recent research and how to use ultrasound imaging to accurately assess and treat the local stabilizing muscles, join me at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore this June for the Rehabilitative Ultrasound Imaging for the Pelvic Girdle and Pelvic Floor course.
Hides JA, Stanton WR. Can motor control training lower the risk of injury for professional football players? Med Sci Sports Exec. 2014; 46(4): 762-8.
Today's post is written by faculty member Allison Ariail, PT, DPT, CLT-LANA, BCB-PMD, PRPC. You can join Allison in her Rehabilitative Ultrasound Imaging: Women's Health and Orthopedic Topics course, which takes place in Baltimore this year, June 12-14.
Since the mid 1990’s the POP-Q has been used to quantify, describe and stage pelvic organ prolapse. A series of 6 points are measured in the vagina in relation to the hymen. In a recent years, translabial ultrasound imaging has been used to look at the pelvic organs and the pelvic floor. A skilled practitioner can view pelvic floor muscle contractions, as well as Valsalva maneuvers and the effects each of these have on the pelvic organs. For example funneling of the urethral meatus, rotation of the urethra, opening of the retrovesical angle, and dropping of the bladder neck and uterus can be viewed using ultrasound imaging of the anterior compartment during Valsalva maneuvers. Pelvic organ descent seen on ultrasound imaging has been associated with symptoms of prolapse.
Until now the relationship between ultrasound and clinical findings has not been examined. A recent study by Dietz set out to see if there is an association between clinical prolapse findings and pelvic descent seen on ultrasound. Data was obtained on 825 women seeking treatment at a urogynecological center for symptoms of lower urinary tract or pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Five coordinates of the POP-Q scale were measured and compared to ultrasound measures of descent. All data was blinded against other data obtained. Clinically, 78% of the women were found to have a POP-Q stage of 2 or greater. It was found that all coordinates were strongly associated with ultrasound measures of descent. The association was almost linear, particularly for the anterior compartment. This means that ultrasound measures can be used to quantify prolapse and be comparable to the POP-Q. Proposed cutoffs have been made for the bladder, uterus, and rectum in relation to the pubic symphysis.
It is exciting to see ultrasound use in the quantification and identification of more gynecological disorders. The use of translabial ultrasound imaging is growing and continuing to be researched. It is an exciting field to be a part of and I look forward to seeing where this research goes. I believe it will be used to help improve surgical procedures as well candidate selection for surgery. Join more for more discussion regarding translabial ultrasound imaging and learn how to view these images in Rehabilitative Ultrasound Imaging for the Pelvic Girdle and Pelvic Floor in Baltimore this June!
Dietz HP, Kamisan Atan I, Salita A. The association between ICS POPQ coordinates and translabial ultrasound findings: implications for the definition of ‘normal pelvic organ support’. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2015; April.
Today’s contribution to the Pelvic Rehab Report comes from Allison Ariail, the instructor for Herman & Wallace’s Rehabilitative Ultrasound Imaging courses. Join Allison and others this June 12-14 at Rehabilitative Ultra Sound Imaging: Women's Health and Orthopedic Topics - Baltimore, MD!
Is an Ultrasound that provides images of the pelvic floor and other deep musculature a cool gadget to have in the office or something that is truly essential? That depends on who you are asking! If you know how to use Ultrasound imaging properly and market yourself and your practice accordingly, it can become a tool that is not only fun to have and handy to use clinically, but also essential to providing your most efficient and thorough care!
Using an ultrasound (US) machine allows you to view the deeper musculature to assess how the muscles are functioning. The most common muscles assessed with US imaging are the transverse abdominis, the multifidus, and the pelvic floor. The patient then can use what is seen on the US screen as biofeedback to retrain their strategy and timing of recruitment. The therapist can also assess the patient’s ability to activate and maintain a contraction in various positions and even during motor tasks as well. This type of biofeedback is not only useful for pelvic floor patients, but is also important for patients with back and sacroiliac joint pain. Research is showing that using this type of stabilization program is making a difference in athletes. Julie Hides has published two articles recently showing that this type of stabilization program has helped with low back pain in professional cricket players, as well as to decrease the rate of lower extremity injury in Australian professional football players. (1,2) (see my post on The Local Stabilizing Muscles and Lower Extremity Injury.
You may be saying to yourself that you can save a lot of money and just palpate the transverse abdominis (TA), and the multifidus. However I would ask you… are you really feeling a transverse abdominis contraction, or some of the internal obliques? I have had 2 patients referred to me from very capable therapists that I respect and look up to. They were referred to me due to a lack of progress in their treatment. The therapist was addressing a local stabilization program, but their back pain was not getting better. To their credit, the therapist was able to train both patients to perform a proper TA contraction in supine, however one patient was unable to hold a contraction beyond 1 second, and another one was not able to activate it in sitting, or standing. This would explain why they were not progressing with respect to their pain. After treating each patient for 1 or 2 visits using US imaging, and sending them back to their referring therapist, they made rapid progress. Both therapists were so convinced on the usefulness of US imaging that they both went out and bought a machine to use in their clinic. Additionally, you would be surprised how many physical therapists (I can’t count the number on two hands anymore) I have seen that think they are properly performing a TA contraction and want to see how they are doing on the US. However, once we used the US imaging to assess their TA contraction, they realized they were overcompensating with their internal obliques. This is with physical therapists who have more knowledge than the general public regarding the importance of these muscles and how to activate them!
If you are knowledgeable in using ultrasound imaging, you open your doors to a number of possible patients you may not be currently accessing as referrals. There are numerous women and men who would like to receive treatment for pelvic floor weakness issues, but do not want to have to disrobe each treatment. Using ultrasound imaging is a wonderful option for these patients. It also is a way to treat younger patients that you have not been able to treat in the past as well (I would recommend taking the Pediatric Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction course prior to treating pediatric patients). By using ultrasound imaging you not only gain an edge over your competing clinics that specialize in pelvic floor therapy, but you can gain an edge for back patients and sacroiliac joint patients as well. For the reasons I stated above when discussing a stabilization program centered on the use of US imaging, you could become very busy with referrals from spine surgeons, and ortho docs. In my office we have six therapists trained in using ultrasound imaging and two ultrasound machines. One of our most limiting factors is not the lack of patients to use ultrasound on, but that we only have two US units available to use! We have several spine physicians that send all of their patients to us because they have seen the difference using ultrasound imaging and the stabilization program can make in patients’ lives. We are eagerly awaiting a third machine and know it will be immediately used and allow us to further grow our clinic.
Now you may be saying, “Yes this would be handy but the pricing makes it impossible!” I would say think outside of the box! Some machines are going down in price making them more affordable. Plus, the settings we as therapists use are pretty basic, so we do not need to purchase a unit with a lot of bells and whistles that makes it more expensive. However there are other ways to acquire a unit other than purchasing one brand new. You could look into the price of refurbished units or look to your referring physician groups that you have a good relationship with. You may be surprised to find out how much physician’s offices get for machines when they are upgrading; hardly anything! If you work for a hospital system you may be able get the old machine transferred to your department for no cost to you! Or if you work in a private practice, you could offer to match the little amount the office would get from the vendor when upgrading. I guarantee you it would not be as much as a new unit. You also might be able to share a unit with another department, office, or clinic. In the past, I have shared ultrasound units with a surgical department, and a gynecology office. I would use the ultrasound some days of the week, and they would other days of the week. It worked out well! There are a lot of possibilities of ways to acquire an ultrasound unit if you think outside of the box! It may take a little effort coordinating things in order to get an US unit, but with proper knowledge, proper marketing, and word of mouth your business will grow and you will not regret the decision to invest in your practice!
Join me to discuss more ideas of how to use US imaging to grow your practice in both clinical skill as well as business growth this June in Baltimore!
1. Hides, Stanton, Wilson et al. Retraining motor control of abdominal muscles among elite cricketers with low back pain. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010; 20: 834-842.
2. Hides JA, Stanton WR. Can motor control training lower the risk of injury for professional football players? Med Sci Sports Exec. 2014; 46(4): 762-8.
This post was written by H&W instructor Elizabeth Hampton. Elizabeth will be presenting her Finding the Driver course in Milwaukee in April!
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
3. IUGA/ICS Terminology for Female Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iuga.org/resource/resmgr/iuga_documents/iugaics_termdysfunction.pdf
Patients and practitioners alike can benefit from meditation and mindfulness training for the rehabilitation setting. Nari Clemons joined us today to discuss her upcoming Meditation for Patients and Practitioners course taking place in New York.
We all live in a fast paced world. Our smart phones are letting us know to get back to people with email or texts, we have busy practices with full days, and many of us also have care-giving to do when we get home. Many practitioners see chronic pain patients, sometimes with abuse history or a history of many years of failed medical care. Our patients come to us stressed out and ready to unload, and this happens all day long.
We know our pelvic patients would do better to calm their system. We go home at night so drained sometimes. We would do better to regulate our system. But how? We are all so busy. In Meditation for Patients and Practitioners, we focus on the therapist as well as the patient.
Perhaps you have tried meditation for yourself or your patient. Perhaps you didn’t respond to imagining a waterfall or counting your breath, and you gave up. Perhaps your patient didn’t really take to it, or you can’t figure out how to fit it into your sessions. So many of us know that we are tired of our own low level anxiety, or that our patients would do better if we could get them to re-frame mentally. However, when it comes to implementing those changes, we often come up at a loss.
A randomized control study of nurse leaders who work in understaffed environments were tested with a workplace meditation program. Stress scores were tested at baseline and one week after completing a 4 week program. What do you know? The participants had a decrease in distress scores and an increase in positive symptoms.
“But my day is too busy,” you think? In this course, we work on strategies to center yourself at the beginning of your day, the end of your day, or during your day with 1, 2, or 5 minute strategies. This way, even on your busiest days, you have a way to reel in your stress level and find your calm. For your patients, we offer around 10 different techniques.
When teaching PF1, PF2A and PF2B, we talk about the need to downtrain the nervous system to be effective with pelvic pain, constipation, and history of trauma. Yet, the question always arises about which technique to use with a patient. In the Meditation for Patients and Providers course we give you a working model of how to choose a technique for your patient depending on the time you have, the patient personality, and the situation you are working on resolving.
As one participant said after the last course, “Excellent course. No other course has so beautifully described such practical techniques that are just as important for the therapist’s mental health as they are for the patient’s”. Sound exciting? Join us at the Meditation for Patients and Practitioners course being offered July 19-20 in New York City.
Bazarko, Dawn et al. “The Impact of an Innovative Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program on the Health and Well-Being of Nurses Employed in a Corporate Setting." Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health 28.2 (2013): 107–133. PMC. Web. 2 June 2015.
The Pelvic Rehab Report recently caught up with Katie Woolf, DPT, in order to hear a bit about her recent experience at H&W's Pudendal Neuralgia course in Salt Lake City. The Pudendal Neuralgia course was developed and is instructed by faculty members Loretta Robertson and Tracy Sher. Katie had this to say about her experience in the course:
I recently attended the Pudendal Neuralgia course in Salt Lake City, Ut. It was a fabulous experience! The instructors were Tracy and Lorretta. They are such darling ladies. They have a contagious passion and endless knowledge of pelvic rehabilitation. This was my second Herman and Wallace course and I have never been disappointed. The facilities for the course were perfect as well.
This course opened my eyes to pelvic pain, pudendal neuralgia (PN), pelvic dysfunction, and how to recognize and manage it. The instructors gave an evidence based practice review and personal testimony of PN and how they treat patients with PN. The instructors were knowledgeable about anatomy, treatment interventions, and surgical interventions for to PN. Most of all they made it a fun course.
The course was well organized and gave great examples of how to interact with your patients about their pain and recovery. The course allowed for us professionals to network and learn from each other. It was interactive and thorough. I felt like every detail of PN was covered.
I have often been intimidated to treat pelvic dysfunction but after this course I discovered it’s just like treating any other diagnosis, “just down stairs.” The course was taught at a level I understood and could apply. I feel empowered to take my knowledge and become a better physical therapist. Tracy and Loretta instilled confidence in me that I can treat patients with PN and pelvic pain. It’s only been a few days but, I have already changed the way I interact with patients because of this course (although I haven't seen a patient with PN yet). I would highly recommend any of the Herman and Wallace courses to anyone who would like to learn about pelvic rehabilitation. The Herman and Wallace educational materials and booklet are a great resources and very helpful to review time and time again. We need more professionals who can help with the pelvic recovery and I feel like I can start to be a resource in my community. I cannot wait for the next course!
The following is a message from Nari Clemons, the instructor of Herman & Wallace's new Meditation for Patients and Providers course. You can join Nari at Touro College in New York this July 19-20 at Meditation for Patients and Practitioners - New York, NY!
What doesn’t meditation do? And why aren’t we meditating, already?
I’ve heard it said that if all the benefits of exercise could be placed in a pill, it would be the most powerful prescription. I’m thinking that the same could be said for meditation. We hear little snippets of it as we scroll through the news: meditation for heart disease, meditation for blood pressure, meditation for decreased anxiety. Well, here is yet another study:
Researchers used fMRI technology to examine the brain in 50 people who had been meditating for an average of 20 years and 50 non- meditators. Both groups had the same number of men and women, with ages ranging from 24 to 77. The participants’ brains were scanned, and while age did related to gray matter loss, it was better preserved in those who meditate. **
Americans are living longer, but rates of Alzheimers and Neurodegenerative disease rates are going up. Well, meditation is something you can do to keep on top of your cognitive game. So, why aren’t people meditating? When I ask patients this, I often hear, “I don’t know how” or “I tried it once and I didn’t like it”. I think there is a misconception that mediation should be valued if someone had an experience of bliss or if they are “good at it”.
In fact, meditation is like exercise; it is a benefit that grows as you use it more. It can be hard at first when the mind is not used to being calm or more still. It is not a one-time-use kind of fix. Like exercise, as you do it more, you see more benefits, and you come to like it more. Not everyone who is starting an exercise program will want to train for marathons or be a ballerina or try cross fit. Just as there are different personalities and starting points with exercise, the same can apply to meditation.
In the MPP Herman Wallace course, Meditation for Patients and Practitioners, we break down a lot of the mystery behind learning and teaching meditation. We use techniques of different lengths of time and different aims. We discuss how to pick which technique for which patient or even how to choose a technique for the same patient in a different situation. Going further, we discuss ways to use meditation as a health care provider, so you can share in the benefits of a practice and keep yourself refreshed about your practice. Participants in the course get lots of lab time to develop comfort level deciphering which technique to use and be comfortable teaching and using meditation in their own lives. We also provide a CD with many of the techniques that you will be able to use to refresh course material or to recommend to participants for use in their own homes.
As providers we know that “carrying our patients home” by thinking of them when we leave work or staying sad or anxious about something that happened that day at work is not actually helpful to our patients. Or we may realize we are tired or worn out from the stress of our jobs. Yet, we really don’t know what to do about it. In the MPP course, we discuss ways to keep your job in the space it belongs in your life. This can help practitioners to live a more balanced life, as well as being more present at work.
Today we hear from Susannah Haarmann, the instructor for Rehabilitation for the Breast Cancer Patient. If you want to learn how to implement your pelvic rehab training with breast oncology patients, join Susannah in Maywood, IL on June 27th and 28th.
Effective pelvic rehab practitioners demonstrate many skills which are especially suitable to treat people with breast cancer, however, the first idea that comes to mind is that they understand what my friend refers to as, ‘the bikini principle.’ She remarked this week that I treat the ‘no no’ areas; the private places that we rarely share…with anyone. The reproductive regions of the pelvis and chest wall both consciously and subconsciously are associated with a plethora of personal psychological and social connotations. A pelvic health practitioner has a raised level of sensitivity to working with this patient population; there is no true protocol in this line of work, effective treatment will require a deeper level of listening and being present with the patient, and a person’s healing of the pelvic region is likely to go beyond the physiologic realm.
The biopsychosocial model of treatment is especially pertinent to the pelvic and breast oncology specialties. The breasts have great biological importance for sexual reproduction and nurturing offspring. Psychologically, breasts represent femininity for many women (and imagine how the story would change for a male with breast cancer.) Furthermore, different societies tend to create a host of rules and guidelines about what is ‘breast appropriate.’ The rehab practitioner understands that a person’s perceptions of their breasts are unlike any others and the same holds true for their cancer journey and goals with therapy.
The pelvic practitioner understands the importance of a straight face; if you have been in the field long enough something completely surprising is bound to occur, but in the day in the life of a pelvic rehab practitioner, no matter how shocking, we’ve seen it before, right? The breast oncology practitioner is going to visualize radiation burns that make their own chest wall hurt upon seeing it. Practitioners will encounter the most frustrating of severe functional deficits that could have been easily avoided had there been the opportunity for earlier intervention. The rehab practitioner providing breast oncologic care understands the story is complex, the road may be long, and although our role revolves around the body, the side effects of our treatment may have much greater reward beyond just physical function.