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Blog posts tagged in Peer-Reviewed Articles

Cognition in later years may be affected by premature menopause, according to an article published online in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. In the study 4,868 women at least 65 years old were assessed on a cognitive test battery and were evaluated for clinical dementia. Associations between the subject’s age at menopause, surgical versus natural menopause, use of menopausal hormone therapy, and cognitive function later in life were studied. According to introductory concepts described in the article, estrogen level changes postmenopause are associated with brain atrophy and memory complaints.

Variables such as verbal fluency, visual memory, psychomotor speed and global cognitive function can be negatively impacted by premature menopause

Tests were administered at baseline, and again at 2, 4 and 7 years from baseline. Tools included the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) for global cognitive function, Benton’s Visual Retention Test (BVRT) for visual memory assessment, Isaacs Set Test for verbal fluency or semantic access, and the Trail Making Tests A and B for timed visual motor tasks of psychomotor speed and attention and executive function. Unrelated to cognitive function, The Rosow and Breslau mobility and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living scales, the Centre for Epidemiology Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), and other instruments were used to assess socioeconomic, demographic, lifestyle and health information. Dementia was also evaluated by a trained psychologist (or neurologist if subject was suspected to have dementia) and cases were assessed by a panel of dementia experts as a third step in the process.Symptoms of menopause (raster)

Natural menopause was noted in 79% of the subjects, surgical menopause in 10%, and 11% due to other causes including radiation, chemotherapy, or unknown. Less than 1 in 7 women was currently using hormone therapy, and over 1/5 used hormone therapy at menopause (most commonly reported treatment was transdermal estradiol- median time of use was 10 years).

The authors concluded that variables such as verbal fluency, visual memory, psychomotor speed and global cognitive function can be negatively impacted by premature menopause. Specifically, premature menopause including premature ovarian failure or surgical menopause at 40 years of age or less was independently associated with increased risk of poor verbal fluency and visual memory later in life. Premature menopause was also associated with increased risk of psychomotor speed and global cognitive decline. The primary conclusion of the article is that when an ovariectomy is being considering in younger women, the potential negative impact on cognitive function should make up part of the risk/benefit discussion. Hormonal influence during various stages of a woman’s life can have a dramatic impact on many variables impacting quality of life and rehabilitation efforts. To learn more about menopause, the Institute offers several courses that contain information about rehabilitation for women throughout the lifespan.

You’ve done a thorough evaluation of the lumbar spine. You’ve done all the special tests for hip pathology, but something is missing. Of course it could be a pelvic floor issue, but what else? Think about the middle child who gets ignored even if making a commotion or goes unnoticed unless being tripped over when standing still. Perhaps the missing link to your patient’s dysfunction is the sacroiliac joint, that “in between” area. If you are unsure how to assess and deal with the “middle child,” learning more about Sacroiliac Joint and Evaluation is something to add to your professional bucket list.

According to the special tests book by Chad Cook, a pain mapping test suggests a referral pattern of SI dysfunction as pain in the buttock unilaterally, below the level of L5, without symptoms in the midline. Often we are on a mission to make the lumbar spine the source of symptoms, but this provides some guideline as to where the pain would be located if the SI joint were the guilty party. If pain is found above L5, the SI joint is likely not the primary tissue in lesion. If the pain is bilateral, the issue is more than just SI joint.(Cook, 2013)

The special tests to diagnose SI joint dysfunction have been considered in a cluster. According to Laslett, distraction, compression, thigh thrust, Gaenslens, and Patricks are the primary tests used to assess SI dysfunction. Three or more of these tests being positive can help a clinician rule in SI joint as a diagnosis, with SI joint blocks being just as predictive. When pain cannot be centralized, and three of the tests are positive, there is a 77% probability the SI joint is the source of pain; and, in the pregnant population, there is an 89% chance the SI joint is the culprit of pain.(Laslett, 2008)

A recent systematic review published in The Lancet online describes the benefits of using music as a postoperative aid in recovery. Seventy-three randomized, controlled trials were included in the review, and the articles covered the use of music before, during, and after surgery. A wide variety of surgical procedures were represented in the research articles, and included cardiac procedures, mastectomy, urogynecologic and abdominal surgeries, and gastrointestinal surgeries and procedures. Interventions included listening to music with headphones, listening to relaxation training or “therapeutic suggestion.” Many of the studies included a control group with routine care or white noise, headphones without music.

The main results of the research is that use of music reduces postoperative pain, anxiety, and analgesia use, and improves patient satisfaction. The timing of or choice of music listened to in the studies did not significantly affect outcomes. Interestingly, even when patients were given general anesthesia, music was effective. And when patients chose their own music, there was a slight increase in reduction of pain and analgesia use.

How can this information be of use to pelvic rehabilitation providers? Perhaps one of your patients will be heading into surgery. A recommendation for listening to favorite music in the postoperative period could be made. Is music available to your patients in your setting? If so, what kind of music? Is the patient allowed to influence the type of music? Maybe the patient could play a favorite song list from their smart phone, or request a certain time period of music on a music subscription service you may use in the clinic. Regardless of how we use this information, it’s great to be reminded of the potentially positive ways that music can influence healing.

Carolyn McManus, PT, MS, MA is the author and instructor of "Mindfulness Based Pain Treatment: A Biopsychosocial Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Pain". Carolyn is a specialist in managing chronic pelvic pain, and has incorporated mindfulness meditation into her practice for more than 2 decades. Today she is sharing her experience by analyzing some of the most foundational research in the field of mindfulness and meditation.

Mindfulness awareness has been described as the sustained attention to present moment awareness while adopting attitudes of acceptance, friendliness and curiosity. (1,2) In patients with persistent pain, mindfulness has shown to reduce pain intensity, anxiety and depression and in improve quality of life. (3,4) Researchers suggest that mindful awareness may work through 4 mechanisms: attention regulation, increased body awareness, enhanced emotional regulation and changes in perspective on self. (5)

1. Attention Regulation: In chronic pan populations, improved attention regulation has been suggested to result in less negative appraisal of pain, greater pain acceptance and reduced pain anticipation. (6)

An interesting study aimed to objectively answer the following question: Does applying kinesiotape to promote a posterior pelvic tilt improve an active straight leg raise (ASLR) test in women who have sacroiliac joint pain and who habitually wear high-heeled shoes? To explain some of the rationale for the chosen technique and target population, the authors first describe prior research pointing out that use of high heels can lead to an anterior pelvic tilt position and increased lumbar lordosis. This position can slacken the sacrotuberous ligament and therefore reduce the ability of the ligament to create proper form closure, according to the article.

The research included 16 women with a mean age of 23.63. Inclusion criteria is as follows: having a habit of wearing high-heeled shoes (at least 4 times/week for 4 consecutive hours over at least 1 year), and having pain in both sacroiliac joints with the active straight leg raise test (ASLR). Additionally, having symptoms for at least 3 months, no proximal SIJ pain referral to the lumbar spine, and at least 3 of 5 positive SIJ tests (posterior shear test, pelvic torsion test, sacral thrust test, distraction and compression test) were needed for inclusion in the study.

Anterior pelvic tilt was measured using a palpation meter (PALM) before, immediately after application, 1 day after tape application, and immediately after removal of tape. ASLR was measured at same time points. The ASLR was self-scored on a 6-point scale ranging from “not difficult at all”” to unable to perform”. Kinesiotape was applied for a posterior pelvic tilt taping, and the tape was applied in the target position. I-type strips with ~50% of available tension were applied over the rectus abdominis and external oblique muscles. I-type strips with ~75% tension were placed from ASIS to PSIS aiming for mechanical correction of the anterior tilt.

Is there a consensus among physical therapists about the use and perceived effectiveness of Pilates exercise for low back pain? 30 Australian physiotherapists experienced with Pilates exercise were surveyed and asked about Pilates as an indication for low back pain. The results were published in Physical Therapy. Consensus at 100% was reached for benefits, indications, and precautions of Pilates exercise, and only 50-56% for risks and contraindications, respectively. Therapists agreed on indications such as maladaptive movement patterns, poor body awareness, poor flexibility, decreased lumbar spine mobility, poor breathing and postural control.

The contraindications that were agreed on (but not as strong an agreement as the indications) included pre-eclampsia and unstable fractures. Agreement was reached that participation in Pilates exercise requires caution in the presence of unstable spondylolisthesis or significant lower extremity radiculopathy. The contraindications that were no agreed upon included cancer, severe osteoporosis, significant hypertension, and yellow psychosocial flags.

The physiotherapists did all agree that Pilates may help patients who have chronic low back pain by increasing function and confidence with movement, exercise, and activities, and additionally, that body awareness, postural control, and movement patterns may improve. Potential adverse events that may occur following Pilates exercise (and that were agreed upon) included aggravation of low back pain, or increased muscle tension. In relation to other potential risks of participating in Pilates exercise, inadequate training of instructors and inappropriate exercise prescription was listed. If you would like to learn more about Pilates exercise prescription for specific women’s health issues such as pelvic floor dysfunction, peripartum issues, and perimenopausal issues such as osteoporosis, check out the Institute’s new course on Pilates.

What are the attributes and barriers to care for college-aged women who have pelvic pain? This is a question asked by researchers who published an original article on the topic in the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology. To complete the study, a random sample of 2000 female students at the University of Florida were sent an online questionnaire. Included in the questionnaire was basic demographic data, general health and health behavior questions, psychosocial factors, measures assessing different types of pelvic pain such as dyspareunia, dysmenorrhea, urinary, bowel, or vulvar pain, and information about barriers to care for pelvic pain and quality of life measures. A total of 390 women completed the survey, and the mean age was 23 years old. Most of the women in the sample identified as white, with 9.6% identifying as black or African-American. Most of the respondents had never been pregnant. The chart below lists some of the data.

Experienced pelvic pain over past 12 months 73%
Dysmenorrhea 80%
Deep dyspareunia 30%
Symptoms with bowel movements 38%
Vulvar pain (including superficial dyspareunia) 21.5%
Of women with pelvic pain, those lacking diagnosis 79%
Of women with pelvic pain, those who have not visited doctor 74%

Barriers to receiving care included difficulty with insurance coverage and providers’ “…lack of time and knowledge or interest in chronic pelvic pain conditions.” An interesting finding was that among the women who had pelvic pain, those who were sexually active reported lower scores on physical and mental health. Even among the women without pelvic pain, those who were sexually active reported lower mental health scores.

Over the past 28 years, my pelvic floor has endured at least 20,000 miles of running, including racing on the collegiate level and then completing 10 marathons. Add to the high-impact sport two 8.1 pound natural childbirth deliveries 26 months apart, and you can imagine why I accepted the invitation to blog for this well-respected institute. One of my elderly patients once told me my uterus was going to drop out from so much running (which, thankfully, has NOT happened); however, I have to admit, urinary stress incontinence and frequent urination were unwelcome enough consequences! On the positive side, it all initiated my journey to understanding the pelvic floor.

By Mike Baird [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In 2014, Poswiata et al used the Urogenital Distress Inventory (UDI-6) to assess how prevalent stress urinary incontinence may be among elite female skiers and runners. Of the 112 female athletes in the study, 50% reported leaking a small amount of urine. Coughing and sneezing provoked leakage for 45.54% of those women, indicating stress incontinence, and 58.04% of the women in the study reported frequent urination. Are those acceptable statistics? I would have to say no.

An article promoting the beneficial role of a thorough clinical assessment was published last year in the Scandinavian Journal of Urology, and although the article is directed to medical providers, serves as an excellent summary for pelvic rehabilitation providers. Doctors Quaghebeur and Wyndaele describe a “four-step plan” that can help direct treatment efficiently, and that emphasizes the muscular and neurologic systems as potential referral sources. While you may not be surprised about several of the steps, you may find this article to be a useful tool, particularly for the terrific chart about neuralgia-type pain that you can find in the linked article.

Step 1 should include history taking with attention to information about the following:

- urinary frequency, urgency, and nocturia
- bowel habits
- sexual complaints and quality-of-life impact
- pain description with significant detail
- use of questionnaires

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Herman & Wallace faculty member Lila Abbate instructs several courses in pelvic rehabilitation, including "Coccyx Pain, Evaluation and Treatment". Join Lila this October in Bay Shore, NY in order to learn evaluation and treatment skills for patients with coccyx conditions.

Case studies are relevant reading for physical therapists. Reviewing case studies puts you into the writer’s brain allowing you to synthesize your current knowledge of a particular diagnosis taking you through some atypical twists and turns in treating this particular patient type. In JOSPT, August 2014, Marinko & Pecci presented a very well-written case study of two patients with coccyx pain. By then, I had already written my Coccyx course and couldn’t wait to see what the authors had written. I eagerly downloaded the article to see another’s perspective of coccyx pain and their treatment algorithms, if any, were presented in the article. How were the author’s patients different than mine? What exciting relevant information can I add to my Coccyx course?

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