(646) 355-8777

Herman & Wallace Blog

Differential Diagnosis: A Case Study

My job as a pelvic floor therapist is rewarding and challenging in so many ways. I have to say that one of my favorite "job duties" is differential diagnosis. Some days I feel like a detective, hunting down and piecing together important clues that join like the pieces of a puzzle and reveal the mystery of the root of a particular patient's problem. When I can accurately pinpoint the cause of someone's pain, then I can both offer hope and plan a road to healing.

Recently a lovely young woman came into my office with the diagnosis of dyspareunia. As you may know dyspareunia means painful penetration and is somewhat akin to getting a script that says "lower back pain." As a therapist you still have to use your skills to determine the cause of the pain and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

My patient relayed that she was 6 months post partum with her first child. She was nursing. Her labor and delivery were unremarkable but she tore a bit during the delivery. She had tried to have intercourse with her husband a few times. It was painful and she thought she needed more time to heal but the pain was not changing. She was a 0 on the Marinoff scare. She was convinced that her scar was restricted. "Oh Goodie," I thought. "I love working with scars!" But I said to her, "Well, we will certainly check your scar mobility but we will also look at the nerves and muscles and skin in that area and test each as a potential pain source, while also completing a musculoskeletal assessment of the rest of you."

Her "external" exam was unremarkable except for adductor and abdominal muscle overactivity. Her internal exam actually revealed excellent scar healing and mobility. There was significant erythemia around the vestibule and a cotton swab test was positive for pain in several areas. There was also significant muscle overactivity in the bulbospongiosis, urethrovaginal sphincter and pubococcygeus muscles. Also her vaginal pH was a 7 (it should normally be a 4, this could indicate low vaginal estrogen). I gave her the diagnosis of provoked vestibulodynia with vaginismus. Her scar was not the problem after all.

Initially for homework she removed all vulvar irritants, talked to her doctor about trying a small amount of vaginal estrogen cream, and worked on awareness of her tendency to clench her abdominal, adductor, and pelvic floor muscles followed by focused relaxation and deep breathing. In the clinic I performed biofeedback for down training, manual therapy to the involved muscles, and instructed her in a dilator program for home. This particular patient did beautifully and her symptoms resolved quite quickly. She sent me a very satisfied email from a weekend holiday with her husband and daughter.

Although this case was fairly straightforward, it is a great example of how differential diagnosis is imperative to deciding and implementing an effective treatment plan for our patients. In Herman & Wallace courses you will gain confidence in your evaluation skills and learn evidence based treatment processes that will enable you to be more confident in your care of both straightforward and complex pelvic pain cases. Hope to see you in class!

Testicular Cancer: Seeking to Spare the Sperm
Vulvodynia: Foods May be Fueling the Fire

Upcoming Continuing Education Courses

Mobilization of the Myofascial Layer - Medford, OR Satellite Location

Nov 6, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Asante Rogue Valley Medical Center

Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist - Seattle, WA (POSTPONED)

Nov 6, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: MTI Physical Therapy

Mobilization of the Myofascial layer: Pelvis and Lower Extremity- Greenville, SC (Postponed)

Nov 6, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Bon Secours St. Francis Health System

Mobilization of the Myofascial Layer Satellite Lab Course

Nov 6, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Mobilization of the Myofascial Layer - Athens, GA Satellite Location

Nov 6, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Thrive Integrated Medicine

Mobilization of the Myofascial Layer - Greenville, SC Satellite Location

Nov 6, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Bon Secours St. Francis Health System

Mobilization of Myofascial - Self-Hosted

Nov 6, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist - Remote Course

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Athletes & Pelvic Rehabilitation - San Diego, CA (Postponed)

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Comprehensive Therapy Services

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Somerset, NJ Satellite Course

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Sports Medicine Institute

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Grand Rapids, MI (SOLD OUT)

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital

Pregnancy Rehabilitation - Washington, DC (Postponed)

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: GWUH Outpatient Rehabilitation Center

Bowel Pathology and Function -Middletown, CT (Postponed)

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Middlesex Hospital

Bowel Pathology and Function - Remote Course

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pregnancy Rehabilitation - Remote Course (SOLD OUT)

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Satellite Lab Course

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Marietta, GA Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Southern Pelvic Health

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - East Norriton, PA Satellite Course

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Core 3 Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Cranford, NJ Satellite Course

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Ivy Rehab Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Manchester, IA Satellite Course

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Physical Therapy Solutions

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Richmond, VA Satellite Course

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Pivot Physical Therapy

Athletes & Pelvic Rehabilitation - Remote Course

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Self-Hosted

Nov 7, 2020 - Nov 8, 2020
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Bay Shore, NY (Postponed)

Nov 8, 2020 - Nov 9, 2020
Location: Touro College: Bayshore

Mobilization of Visceral Fascia: The Gastrointestinal System - Jackson, WY Satellite Location

Nov 13, 2020 - Nov 15, 2020
Location: Four Pines Physical Therapy

Mobilization of Visceral Fascia: The Gastrointestinal System - Fairlawn, NJ (Postponed)

Nov 13, 2020 - Nov 15, 2020
Location: Bella Physical Therapy

Mobilization of Visceral Fascia: The Gastrointestinal System - Self-Hosted

Nov 13, 2020 - Nov 15, 2020
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Mobilization of Visceral Fascia: The Gastrointestinal System - Fargo, ND Satellite Location

Nov 13, 2020 - Nov 15, 2020
Location: Apex Physical Therapy & Wellness Center