By Danica Emery, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist

For many individuals, experiencing some level of discomfort during their menstrual cycle is considered normal. However, it’s important to recognise when period pain goes beyond the typical discomfort and is a sign of an underlying issue. Pelvic health physiotherapists specialise in managing these conditions, providing targeted care. Let’s explore when to seek their expertise and how they can help.

Understanding Normal vs. Abnormal Period Pain:

Normal period pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, is usually characterised by mild to moderate cramping and discomfort in the lower abdomen and lower back. This pain typically starts a day or two before menstruation and may last for a few days. It is manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers, heat therapy, and rest.

However, when period pain becomes abnormal or excessive, it can be indicative of an underlying issue. Abnormal period pain may be characterised by:

  1. Severe and debilitating pain that interferes with daily activities.
  2. Prolonged pain that extends beyond the menstrual period.
  3. Irregular periods or heavy bleeding.
  4. Pain during or after intercourse.
  5. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or nausea during your period.
  6. Pelvic pain that is not relieved by standard pain medications or remedies.

The Role of a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist:

Pelvic health physiotherapists are specialized physiotherapists with training in assessing and treating conditions related to the pelvic floor and the musculoskeletal system in the pelvic area. When it comes to managing abnormal period pain, their role is multifaceted:

  1. Assessment and Diagnosis: Pelvic health physiotherapists conduct a thorough assessment to understand the source of your pain. This may involve a review of your medical history, a physical examination, and, in some cases, specialized tests such as transvaginal or transabdominal ultrasound.
  2. Pelvic Floor Muscle Rehabilitation: The pelvic floor muscles play a crucial role in supporting the pelvic organs and can influence pain perception. A pelvic health physiotherapist can design a tailored exercise program to strengthen and/or relax these muscles, potentially alleviating some of the pain.
  3. Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques can be used to release tension in the pelvic muscles and surrounding tissues which may help reduce pain.
  4. Education and Self-Care: Pelvic health physiotherapists educate their patients about their condition and ways to manage it. This includes providing guidance on nutrition, posture, and lifestyle changes that can help reduce pain and discomfort.
  5. Biofeedback: Biofeedback techniques may be employed to help individuals gain better control over their pelvic muscles. This can be especially useful for those with conditions like endometriosis or pelvic floor dysfunction.
  6. Pain Management Strategies: In collaboration with other healthcare providers, pelvic health physiotherapists can recommend a holistic approach to pain management. This may include medications, dietary changes, or psychological support.

If your period pain goes beyond what is considered normal and begins to interfere with your daily life, it’s essential to seek help from a healthcare professional. A pelvic health physiotherapist is a vital part of the team of experts who can assist in diagnosing and managing abnormal period pain. Their expertise in pelvic health and rehabilitation techniques can make a significant difference in improving your overall quality of life and reducing pain associated with reproductive health conditions. Remember that you don’t have to suffer in silence; there are professionals ready to help you manage and alleviate your discomfort.

To make an appointment, call our Claremont physio clinic on (08) 9384 1555 or our Nedlands physio clinic on (08) 6389 2947.

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