Pelvic Pain: The Master of Disguise

In July we started a new series of posts about invisible illnesses in conjunction with Covance. This month’s post is one which has a huge amount of relevance to our readers because it’s a problem which will almost certainly affect most, if not all at some point. The reason the subject caught our eye was because one study in particular has stood out for Covance recently – the trialling of a brand new treatment for chronic pain relief.

But should we be searching for a treatment for pain, if that pain is just one symptom of a bigger condition? Why not concentrate on curing the disease which is causing the pain? Unfortunately it’s not necessarily that easy and we thought we’d try and and explain why.

Pelvic pain can, of course, affect both men and women. However, gynaecological disorders mean that it is far more common in women. Women’s health issues which can cause pelvic pain include:

All of these conditions require different treatments- the problem is, they often share each others symptoms! Nausea with pelvic pain could be a symptom of sexually-transmitted PID, in which case antibiotics would be the best course of action. However, it could also be a sign of ovarian torsion, which would require surgery.

To add insult to injury, nerves in the pelvic region are shared by both the reproductive and gastrointestinal systems – so pain in the pelvis may even be caused by gut disorders like IBS, colitis or appendicitis. Fever and chills with pelvic pain might indicate appendicitis or PID; a ‘directional’ pain which affects only the left or right hand side of the pelvis might find its roots in the ovaries, or in the appendix. Pelvic illnesses can show similar symptoms even though they’re affecting a completely different set of organs!

In a nutshell, diagnosing the cause of pelvic pain is a minefield. Even for an experienced Doctor, it may be difficult to establish where the pain originated, and how best to proceed. Surgical procedures (like hysterectomy or oophorectomy) can cure some of these conditions, but will not cure all causes of pelvic pain. At any rate, this should always be viewed as a last resort, to be undertaken only when both the Doctor and the patient are confident that this is the right solution.

In the meantime, what can you do if you are a victim of this master of disguise? Keeping a diary may well help. Pain which coincides with your monthly cycle or sexual activity might point to a gynaecological cause; or you might notice that the pain is triggered by particular foods or exercise, suggesting a gastrointestinal issue. But until the cause is really understood, the best thing you can do is to keep the pain at bay, and we’re hoping we can help you with that.

If you’d like to take part in any of our clinical trials, or find out more about the work we do here at Covance, please follow this link

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  1. Hi Jules. Another comment on this post has found some relief from some of the problems by working with a chiropractor – it might be worth reading what Jacqueline has to say and then seeing if that could help.

  2. I suffered with Pelvic pain for years after my hysterectomy and after seeing a number of different types of doctors the only thing they could come up with was pain killing injections. One day when visiting my chiropractor I mentioned it to her and she said
    ‘Oh yes I know what that is, it is quite common in women and I had that after my baby. It’s your pubic bone that is out.’
    With that she examined me and using her adjuster put pressure on the centre of my pelvis at the front and the pain went!! I had been suffering with shooting pains down the inside of my leg as well and she showed me where there is a small muscle that locks near the pelvis when the pubic bone is out, which is located in the buttock above my hip joint, she taught me how to massage this to release it.
    Unfortunately she has gone back to South Africa now, but the chiropractor who has taken over from her has read my notes and knows how to give the same treatment. It has made such a difference to my life and the pain only comes back when I have over done it in the garden or carried something heavy, but I go and get it treated and get my life back again. Hope this helps someone else.

  3. At 55 Linda I am still experiencing right deep pelvic pinching, worse when I sit, though no periods for over a year.
    Gp’s are trying me on Lyrica for nerve pain which makes me exhausted and it does not mix with alcohol so have to give it a miss one weekend to be able to enjoy a couple of barcardi’s. I am on Co Drydamol which dulls the pain and Fluoxetine for my anxiety. I had arthroscopy recently for a meniscus tear in which they found advanced osteoarthritis in the knee. I also have Diverculitis Disease and all manner of bowel problems ranging from constipation and loose motions. Gp’s also think multisurgery to my pelvis for endometriosis lesions over the years, has landed me with problematic adhesions. More surgery could worsen things further.
    My right hip/pelvis now hurts all the time and I suffer low back pain, now both knees hurt and my elbows. Googlesearch keeps coming up with Fybromagylia. I admit the stress of my father moving from Broadwindsor your home village Linda, to Seaford Sussex has been a huge upheaval. Especially because my father suffered a massive heamorridge stroke after a fall shortly after arriving back in the south east.
    Dealing with my own health issues and my poor dad’s has had a big impact on my health too which I have little time to address. My brother at 60 suffered a small heart attack after chest pains which an angiogram picked up was a blood clot ‘ widow maker’, luckily it was discovered in time and stented but the last year has tested us as a family, all to the max! Dad is due to have four teeth removed which concerns me as we had the paramedics out on emergency for him yesterday due to ‘not waking’ confusion and evacuation in his bed which we later found was his blood sugar was dangerously low ‘a hypo’. Glucose and a sandwich restored him but his voice remained a little distorted. Just back from his eye, diabetic check up, took all day at the hospital pushing him round in a wheelchair, they have registered dad partially blind. It is hard to address my own health issues as dad comes first but
    my crippling muscular skeletal pain and limping and bowel problems need to be addressed.