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Pelvic Pain: The Types, Causes, and Treatment Options

Quick, think about the most common types of pain. Back and neck pain may come to mind, and they should. 

But pelvic pain affects at least 10% of women in Canada. Thousands of men also deal with pelvic pain at some point in their lives. 

Pelvic pain can be intense, and it may become hard to walk or work while you are in pain. Yet there are ways you can combat your pain, once you get the facts. 

What are the most common types of pelvic pain? What causes pelvic pain? How can you be diagnosed and receive treatment for your pain?

Answer these questions and you can take your first steps to a pain-free life today. Here is your quick guide.

Types of Pelvic Pain 

There are two main types of pelvic pain. Acute pain is pain that occurs without warning. The pain is sharp and can be debilitating, but it passes after a few weeks. 

Chronic pain occurs over at least six months. You may feel your pain every day, or it may come and go for no good reason. 

Pelvic pain can create a number of sensations. Some people feel tearing or throbbing pain, while others feel as though they are being burned. Your pain may become worse when you exercise, lie down, or try to stretch or thrust your hips.

Pelvic pain usually affects the area around the pelvis. However, the pain can radiate into the buttocks, lower back, and thighs. This can make it hard to detect where exactly your pain is coming from.


Pelvic pain can occur due to a few different causes. You should examine all potential causes before determining that any of them is responsible for your pain. 

Muscle and Ligament Tears

Your pelvic floor contains numerous muscles and ligaments. These soft tissues can tear, causing pain and stiffness throughout the pelvis. 

In particular, the muscles and tissues around your iliac crest can become damaged. Your iliac crest is the biggest bone in your pelvis, running along the waist and hips. A blow to the waist and hips can damage tissues near the iliac crest and lead to pain.

Pelvic floor problems can also cause significant pain. Nonrelaxing pelvic floor dysfunction is a condition that causes the pelvic muscles to stiffen. This leads to pain and difficulty urinating and passing a bowel movement. 

Digestive Issues

The large intestine and other gastrointestinal organs are not located in the pelvis. However, pain can present in the lower abdomen, and you may believe your pain is coming from the pelvis. 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes cramping and abdominal pain. If you experience more pain during stress or after eating certain foods like raw garlic, you may have IBS. Many people with IBS also experience bloating and diarrhea and/or constipation. 

Diverticulitis is inflammation of the large intestine. Pain can occur throughout the abdomen as well as in the pelvis. Diverticulitis is more common amongst older people, so contact your doctor if you are older and you think you may have it.

If you have acute pain in the lower right quadrant of your abdomen, you may have appendicitis. Many people with the condition experience worse pain when they move, and they also have a fever and a loss of appetite. If you believe you have appendicitis, contact your doctor or the nearest hospital right away.

Reproductive Issues

Women can experience a number of reproductive issues that result in pelvic pain. 10-15% of Canadian women experience at least one episode of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is inflammation of organs in the pelvis, such as the uterus and ovaries.

Pain gets worse during sexual intercourse, and a fever may accompany the pain. Most cases of PID come from sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia. 

Ectopic pregnancies occur when fertilized eggs linger in the fallopian tube or another location outside the uterus. There are no symptoms right away, but after a few weeks, you can experience pelvic pain on one side as well as vaginal bleeding. If your pain is severe and you have significant bleeding, you need to go to the hospital. 

Men can also experience reproductive problems that result in pelvic pain. The prostate can become inflamed or infected, resulting in burning and throbbing pain. 

Treatment Options

Whether you have acute or chronic pain, you should go to your doctor for a medical evaluation. In order to determine your cause, your doctor may need to conduct a few tests.

They may need to draw some blood to see if you have a bacterial infection. They may produce images of your soft tissues using MRIs.

Once they diagnose a cause, you can receive treatment right away. There are many treatment options for overactive muscles, and surgery is rarely necessary for a pelvic floor problem. You can relax your muscles through diaphragmatic breathing and light stretches, including the reclined butterfly. 

You can get pelvic floor help from a physical therapist. They can help you perform stretches and build muscles so you experience less pain.

You may experience pelvic pain and anxiety at the same time. You can use meditation and visualization techniques to deal with pain as it occurs. But you should also seek psychological counseling if your anxiety impedes your daily life.

If you have a gastrointestinal problem, you should follow your doctor’s suggestions for treatment. You may need to change your diet and take medications to control the spasms in your digestive tract. 

The Essentials of Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain is more complicated than you think. Pain can be acute or chronic, and it can create a number of sensations in the body.

The most common causes of pelvic pain are pelvic floor problems, IBS, and PIC. But medical emergencies like appendicitis and ectopic pregnancies can also lead to pelvic pain. 

Go to your doctor as soon as you experience intense pain or other symptoms. Get a medical evaluation and then work with a therapist on managing your pain.

You don’t have to go far for physiotherapy. Reform Physiotherapy serves the Brampton area. Contact us today.

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