How to find relief from IBS and Pelvic Pain

Chances are you or someone you know has IBS or chronic pelvic pain. It is highly likely that they or you are looking to find relief from IBS and pelvic pain symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common disorder of the GI system.  IBS is a functional disorder of the movement of stool through the small and large intestine.   Symptoms most commonly include diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of both. Often nausea, abdominal discomfort, and abdominal bloating are also present with IBS.  IBS symptoms commonly start before the age of 35. Being female, having a family history of IBS, and a history of anxiety, and/or depression are common characteristics of those with IBS symptoms. In addition to IBS, chronic pelvic pain can come from a number of other conditions of the reproductive, digestive, urinary, or musculoskeletal system.

Chronic pelvic pain is a pain in the area below your belly button and between your hips that lasts greater than 6 months. Common causes of pelvic pain can come from endometriosis, vulvodynia, fibromyalgia, and pelvic floor spasms. One may experience steady sharp or dull pain, cramping, pressure or heaviness within the pelvis, and have pain with intercourse, while having a bowel movement or urinating, or pain when sitting for long periods of time. Did you know that Physical Therapy is shown to help manage IBS and chronic pelvic pain symptoms?


How common are IBS and Chronic Pelvic Pain?

A few quick facts about IBS. In the United States, between 25 and 45 million people suffer from IBS. Worldwide, about 10-15% of the population has been diagnosed with IBS. Of those, 40% have mild symptoms, 35% moderate symptoms, and 25% severe symptoms.

A little bit about chronic pelvic pain too. Chronic pelvic pain is a common problem. It affects approximately 1 in 7 women. Chronic pelvic pain is associated with comorbidities such as irritable bowel syndrome, major depressive disorder, or pelvic inflammatory syndrome. To receive a diagnosis of chronic pelvic pain, one must have pelvic pain for 3-6 months and is often based on history since imaging and laboratory findings tend to be inconclusive. Up to 50% of all chronic pelvic pain sufferers go undiagnosed.

There is a connection between IBS and chronic pelvic pain. Many studies have examined the connection and there is a strong overlap between the two. The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders has found in studies, one-third of women with IBS reported having long-lasting (chronic) pelvic pain.

Did you know that Physical Therapy can help manage symptoms of IBS and chronic pelvic pain?

Physical therapy in conjunction with medical management and dietary changes can be very helpful in reducing the frequency and severity of IBS symptoms. A physical therapist can help with establishing an exercise program to help relieve stress. Stress reduction techniques and exercise can improve bowel function, especially those with constipation.  Therapists can also treat the various conditions associated with IBS, such as fibromyalgia, temporomandibular joint disorder, and chronic pelvic pain. The treatment of these conditions can further relieve stress and improve symptoms of IBS.

​At Freedom PT Services we have pelvic floor specialists who have a variety of techniques to help improve the ability to have a full and complete bowel movement by stretching and training the muscles of the pelvic floor. This can be very helpful in improving and reducing abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, and constipation. We also work to manage strong bowel urges associated with diarrhea with pelvic floor muscle training. Our staff is trained in visceral manipulation, which is a manual technique to the internal organs that works to promote optimal function of the colon. These techniques require advanced training beyond a traditional physical therapy degree and have been helpful in the management of IBS for many patients.

What can be done to help?

We see many commercials on television today about medications that can help ease the symptoms of IBS. These medications can help ease cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. Although these treatments are helpful, a combination of diet changes, such as removing gluten, going on the FODMAP diet, removing carbonation and alcohol from your diet, and exercise can all will help to improve symptoms and quality of life for those suffering from IBS.

IBS and chronic pelvic pain are multifactorial conditions for which there is not a one size fits all treatment.  Our pelvic floor specialized therapists will partner with you to create a customized treatment plan. The treatment plan may include trigger point dry needling to the pelvis, hips, and back, pelvic floor exercise, biofeedback training, manual therapy to the pelvic floor, back, hips, and internal organs, education, and exercise program development.

Don’t wait any longer in seeking treatment for symptoms and pain associated with IBS and chronic pelvic pain. Schedule your appointment today with one of our highly trained pelvic floor specialists.

Contact us via email here, comment on the post, or make an appointment.

Physical Therapist at Freedom Physical Therapy Services
Nina Olson graduated with honors from Marquette as a Doctor of Physical Therapy. She specializes in women’s health services and uses a variety of manual techniques to effectively treat each person as a whole. Nina incorporates the Pilates Method into the rehabilitation of her orthopedic and spine patients as this method as proven to be a fun and effective treatment modality.