(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

Pediatric Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders - Remote Course

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Mequon, WI (SOLD OUT)

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Health In Balance Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Garden City, NY Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Metro Physical & Aquatic Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Bozeman, MT Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Great Northern Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Annapolis, MD Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Encompass PT

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Louisville, KY Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: KORT - Kentucky Orthopedic Rehab Team

Postpartum Rehabilitation - Remote Course (SOLD OUT)

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Fort Smith, AR Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Arkansas Colleges of Heatlh Education

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

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Southern Pelvic Health

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Little Rock, AR Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Core Pelvic Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Torrance, CA Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Women's Advantage Inc

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Toledo, OH Satellite Location

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: ProMedica

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Asheville, NC Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Cornerstone Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Self-Hosted (SOLD OUT)

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Cranford, NJ Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: Ivy Rehab Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Metairie, LA Satellite Location

Feb 27, 2021 - Feb 28, 2021
Location: East Jefferson General Hospital

Bowel Pathology and Function - Remote Course

Feb 28, 2021 - Mar 1, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Self-Hosted (SOLD OUT)

Mar 1, 2021 - Mar 2, 2021
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Brooklyn, NY Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Mar 1, 2021 - Mar 2, 2021
Location: Prime Fitness Physical Therapy

Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist - Remote Course

Mar 5, 2021 - Mar 6, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Mobilization of Visceral Fascia 2: The Reproductive System - Valencia, CA Satellite Location

Mar 5, 2021 - Mar 7, 2021
Location: Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital

Mobilization of Visceral Fascia 2: The Reproductive System - Medford, OR Satellite Location

Mar 5, 2021 - Mar 7, 2021
Location: Asante Rogue Valley Medical Center

Mobilization of Visceral Fascia 2: The Reproductive System - St. Louis, MO Satellite Location

Mar 5, 2021 - Mar 7, 2021
Location: Mercy Hospital St. Louis

Mobilization of Visceral Fascia 2: The Reproductive System - Jackson, WY Satellite Location

Mar 5, 2021 - Mar 7, 2021
Location: Four Pines Physical Therapy

Male Pelvic Floor - Satellite Lab Course

Mar 6, 2021 - Mar 7, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Male Pelvic Floor - St Paul, MN Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

Mar 6, 2021 - Mar 7, 2021
Location: Regions Hospital

Male Pelvic Floor - Kenosha, WI Satellite Location

Mar 6, 2021 - Mar 7, 2021
Location: Aurora Health Care