Earlier this year, when I came across this journal article about developing an interdisciplinary clinic for patients with endometriosis and pelvic pain, I was pleased to see that rehabilitation is included in this team setting. Upon reaching out to Susannah Britnell, physiotherapist, she agreed to answer some questions about her clinic and about her passion for pelvic rehab. Below you can read her responses to my questions. Stay tuned for Part 2 that will be published next week!
How long have you been working in the interdisciplinary clinic?
I’ve been working at the BC Women’s Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis in Vancouver, BC, since October 2012. We are a provincially funded program for women with chronic pelvic pain from all over the province of BC, Canada.
How long have you practiced?
I have been practicing since 1997 and love it! It is amazing how our practice can grow and move into different areas. We are truly lucky we have these opportunities.
What other settings have you worked in?
I have worked in hospital and private practice settings. I found my grounding in musculoskeletal physiotherapy, obtained my manual and manipulative therapy diploma in 2001, and worked in obstetrics for 10 years at BC Women’s hospital. I then started incorporating pelvic floor physiotherapy into my practice and developed a strong interest in chronic pain and the biopsychosocial approach to pain management. In addition to clinical practice, I teach the obstetrics component at UBC School of Rehabilitation as an annual guest lecturer and am an instructor for physiotherapy Rost Therapy courses for pelvic girdle pain, which I often co-instruct with Cecile Röst, a Dutch Physiotherapist.
How did you get involved with the interdisciplinary group?
Were you involved in the development of the center?
Our gynecologists, Dr Allaire and Dr Williams have been working at the Women’s Hospital and Health Centre for many years and identified the need for an interdisciplinary program for women with pelvic pain. After getting the funding in place, they hired a counsellor, physiotherapist, and nurse to be a part of the team. We now also have another gynaecologist, Dr Yong, as well as a Fellow. The gynecologists, counsellor, nurse, and myself along with administrative program manager worked together to develop the program. We have also had input from a Pain Specialist/anesthesiologist. I am so grateful and thankful to be a part of such a supportive and skilled team. As a physiotherapist, it truly is wonderful to have such support from the physicians
Our program consists of a full day workshop which includes pain education, life style changes, mindfulness based stress reduction and meditation techniques. We address fear of movement and give strategies for pacing and grading activity and we also include stretches, posture, and positioning advice. Women then book individual physiotherapy and counselling appointments so we can work on more specific concerns. Physiotherapy treatment may include some passive treatment techniques, but only as a bridge to more active self management. Patients will always have an active plan from the first visit. It is important that we don’t reinforce a sense that the woman needs someone to “fix” her concern and that she has no ability or power to make changes with her pain.