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May Is Pelvic Pain Awareness Month! While there are many causes to be aware of and advocate for, one close to our hearts at the International Pain Society is abdomino-pelvic pain, and we are excited to report that May is Pelvic Pain Awareness Month! This designation for May was created by the International Pelvic Pain Society last year. So let’s talk a few moments about what is pelvic pain, how impactful the diagnosis can be, and what we can do!

The Twisted Trunk: Implications for Abdominal and Pelvic Pain While attending the 3rd World Congress of Abdominal and Pelvic Pain Conference last October in Washington, DC, I had the pleasure of listening to the lecture of Dr. Diane Lee, BSR, FCAMPT, CGIMS. Dr. Lee discussed the impact that altered pelvic biomechanics and non-optimal function in the abdominal wall and pelvic floor have on pelvic pain. Dr. Lee is a practicing Physiotherapist and Women’s Health clinical specialist in Canada. As an author, instructor, fellow and the owner and director of her own therapy clinic, Dr. Lee has made a significant contribution to this field. Her lecture, The Twisted Trunk: Implications for Abdominal and Pelvic Impairment and Pain is summarized below.

A Biopsychosocial Approach to Vulvodynia Throughout my years of practice I’ve treated many women with vulvodynia. I’ve noticed that it’s rare for women to return to 100% solely with physical therapy treatment; even though their musculoskeletal impairments may have returned to normal, some women continue to feel pain. In my experience, it takes a team of practitioners to treat vulvodynia, such as a physician who specializes in vulvar pain, a pelvic floor physical therapist, and a psychologist.

Mechanistic Interplay among Peripheral, Spinal and Brain Adaptions to Chronic Visceral Pain For those of you following our journey through the 3rd World Congress on Abdominal and Pelvic Pain (#WCAPP17), here is another light-bulb lecture explaining the interconnections of chronic visceral pain. The presenter, Melissa A. Farmer, PhD, is a researcher at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University with a long-standing relationship with the International Pelvic Pain Society (the organizer for #WCAPP17). So, needless to say, she has an impressive resume and a passion for understanding pelvic pain. Just check out her wrap sheet. I’ve chosen a few interesting nuggets from her lecture.

Autonomic Dysregulation in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders At the 3rd World Congress on Abdominal and Pelvic Pain organized by the International Pelvic Pain Society, Professor Qasim Aziz spoke about Autonomic Dysregulation in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Qasim Aziz, MBBS, FRCP, PhD is Professor of Neurogastroenterology at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary, University of London. Professor Aziz taught us how the autonomic nervous system plays a role in chronic pain conditions and functional gastrointestinal disorders. This understanding has led to the use of new treatments that modulate the autonomic nervous system.

When Sex Hurts: A Diagnostic Algorithm Most people know that I am a fan of sexy science. So when I saw that the World Congress on Pelvic Pain (WCAPP) had an entire section dedicated to sexual dysfunction I was pretty stoked. You may already be imagining some very arousing presentations; or you may think listening to a talk on intercourse would induce the same amount of blushing as watching Fifty Shades of Grey with your parents. Instead, the audience is treated to the latest evidence-based medicine related to pelvic pain and sex. Although, since most research, including studies on sexual health, involves the use of rodents, many of the presentations consisted of some pretty steamy rat pornography.

The Peripheral Nervous System, Interstitial Cystitis, and Pelvic Pain I had the pleasure of attending Dr. Kenneth Peters’ lecture on the role of the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) in the development and management of pelvic pain. Kenneth Peters, MD is a urologist practicing at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oaks, MI, who specializes in treating complex pelvic pain including interstitial cystitis. For more information on Dr. Peters, check out his website here.

Positive Affect Helps Mitigate Chronic Pain: Building a Positive Piggy Bank Many patients find that managing chronic pelvic pain conditions can sometimes be difficult. Oftentimes there is no one “thing” or pathology that symptoms can be tied to which, understandingly, can be frustrating or overwhelming. More accurately, chronic pelvic pain is a complex interaction of both physiological and psychosocial components. It is not only the body but the mind and the environment that can contribute to a pain experience.

Urological Chronic Pelvic Pain and Manual Physical Therapy

While attending the 3rd World Congress on Abdominal and Pelvic Pain organized by the International Pelvic Pain Society, I had the privilege of listening to Rhonda K. Kotarinos, DPT, MS give a lecture on the topic of urologic chronic pelvic pain and manual physical therapy. Rhonda K. Kotarinos, DPT, MS is a Doctor of Physical Therapy practicing at Kotarinos Physical Therapy, where she treats women and men experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction. Her aim in this lecture was to discuss manual physical therapy treatments for urological chronic pelvic pain syndromes, including research, treatment guidelines, and defining/explaining the manual physical therapy techniques of trigger point release, connective tissue manipulation, and neural mobilization and stretching.


Autonomic Features of Chronic Pelvic Pain Understanding and effectively treating chronic pain continues to challenge the medical community. Now more than ever, there is a sense of urgency to treat this disease. With the astounding reports of opiate addiction and opiate related deaths in this country, we now know that throwing drugs at chronic pain is not the answer. So what is the answer? Thankfully there is a lot of ongoing research trying to figure that out. At the 3rd World Congress of Abdominal and Pelvic Pain in October 2017, some exciting research about chronic pelvic pain was presented which we will share here in the 3rd post of our blog series covering the conference.

Endometriosis: Beyond the Lesions This year at the annual meeting of the International Pelvic Pain Society (IPPS) and the 3rd World Congress on Abdominal and Pelvic Pain (WCAPP), Endometriosis expert Dr. Katy Vincent spoke about why we should not only look at endometrial lesions alone in pain generation (a purely peripheral model), the evidence of central changes in association with endometriosis, and to consider the comorbidities of endometriosis and how it changes clinical practice. In this blog, I will do my best to summarize the complex information from her lecture and help our patients understand what this information mean for them.

IPPS 2017 – A Wrap Up The 3rd World Congress on Abdominal & Pelvic Pain and the 2017 IPPS Annual Fall Meeting has come and gone. While this was my first year in attendance, I think everyone can agree that the program committee did an amazing job with putting together this year’s program. The format of the conference was changed to allow for “clusters” – two to three presenters discussed one topic, and then sat for a panel Q&A session; in total there were nine clusters.

IPPS’s collaboration with PAINWeek was a huge success! PAINWeek® celebrated its 11th annual meeting. Joining the conference for the first time was the International Pelvic Pain Society (IPPS) who provided critical educational resources to healthcare providers amid a complex and uncertain healthcare future.

The IPPS International Liaison Committee is Hard at Work! The (IPPS) International Pelvic Pain Society’s International Liaison Committee is hard at work creating Vision, Mission and Values statements keeping YOU in mind!

The 6 Stages of Toilet Meditation: An Adjunct to Management of Pelvic Floor Dysfunctions + Enhancement of Overall Pelvic Health Over the past few years, mindfulness practises have gained popularity in the media. Perhaps it is because of the growing body of research supporting the health benefits of mindfulness or perhaps it is simply because those that practice mindfulness are personally experiencing the value of being present and mindful throughout the day.

​A word about WCAPP 2017 from our President, Amy Stein, DPT First, I want to thank everyone for their support and I can't wait to see everyone and meet new faces in our Nation’s Capital, Washington DC, this October 12 - 16, 2017 for our 1st IPPS-sponsored and U.S.-based World Congress on Abdominal and Pelvic Pain Conference.

The Complexity of Chronic Vulvar Pain: A Biopsychosocial Approach Trying to figure out the “cause” of most chronic pain conditions is never simple. Often, the original cause has long resolved, disappeared, or was a mystery to begin with. And it really isn’t as simple as finding that “one thing” that “caused” the issue and that — if identified — can be “fixed” such that a “complete cure” can be expected. It’s unfortunate that it isn’t that simple.

Contracture: Can It Occur in the Pelvic Floor? In October I had the privilege of presenting at the International Pelvic Pain Society’s annual meeting. During one of the presentations, a discussion ensued regarding the term contracture. The discussion was centered on whether or not the pelvic floor could ever be in a state of contracture. Given the confusion that was evident during this discussion, I thought a review of the muscle physiology associated with skeletal muscle contracture would be useful to our membership. 

Immunologic Factors Associated with Vulvodynia Vulvodynia is a condition in which women experience chronic vulvar pain that can be localized to one particular area, or occurs as a generalized burning that encompassed the entire vulva region. As one can imagine, it is intensely debilitating and stigmatizing. In fact, we’ve shown that 30% of women suffering from vulvar pain fail to talk with their partner about their pain, and nearly 60% choose not to confide in, and seek the support of close family members.

Diastasis Rectus Abdominis – Should we Open or Close the Gap? Impairments of abdominal wall function have been implicated in multiple conditions associated with pregnancy and delivery including low back and pelvic girdle pain (LB & PGP), urinary incontinence (UI), pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and diastasis rectus abdominis (DRA).

More than 65,000 women are diagnosed with gynecologic cancers (vulvar, vaginal, cervical, ovarian, endometrial) in the United States each year (Sohl et al 2012). Treatment options for these women include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy – all of which have the potential to have local, regional and global effects on a woman’s body. 

IPPS has created a worldwide community of individuals dedicated to our mission, all dedicated to achieving the same goal of better care for men and women suffering from chronic pelvic pain. One of the ways to participate is to help us reach our goal of raising $16,500 for 2016. We can achieve this goal with your help. The money raised goes directly to pelvic pain awareness, medical education, research, and other programs as outlined in the graph below:

As we begin 2016, we’re reflecting on some of our favorite BlogTalkRadio shows from 2015, with The Pelvic Messenger, supported by the International Pelvic Pain Society. Read on below to learn more about these wonderful radio shows discussing pelvic health and give them a listen! Here they are, in no particular order:

The True Value of Listening to Patients Our initial patient encounter creates the framework for not only how we relate to our patient but critical information relayed for the first time that creates the context in which the patient’s condition is best understood.

You’ve heard about the silent auction, where you have the chance to bid on vacations, sports memorabilia, event tickets, handmade items and more. Maybe you haven’t heard why the International Pelvic Pain Society works so hard to raise money each year. 

Changing the Brain’s “Painful” Habits The brain is a habit-forming machine. It loves patterns, rhythms, and routines. It loves knowing what to expect. In fact, there’s an aspect about the brain in which it needs to know what to expect and this occurs more in some brains than others. 

Undisclosed Trauma and Pelvic Pain Health Status and Abuse/Trauma History: Gastrointestinal and Chronic Pelvic Pain

The Role of Digestion and Nourishment in Pelvic Pain This week’s blog post is written by Jessica Drummond, MPT, CCN, CHC, Founder and CEO, of The Integrative Pelvic Health Institute. The IPPS is honored to have Jessica as a speaker our annual conference in San Diego, October 22-25, 2015, on the important topic “The Role of Digestion and Nourishment in Pelvic Pain”. Here is a glimpse of the range of topics she will cover in her lecture.

Neurological Considerations and Direct Experiences of the Mind/Body Connection I was working as a physical therapist specializing in the rehabilitation of adults with neurological disorders when chronic pelvic pain pulled me out of my regular life.

A Message from IPPS Scientific Program Chair Sarah Fox, MD Scientific Program Chair Sarah Fox gives an overview of the upcoming IPPS Annual Meeting.

OUR GOAL for 2014: Raise $12,000 +
HOW: Your Donation, Our Silent Auction, and Our Cocktail Party: Petterino’s, Oct 24 th, 2014 in Chicago.

Do Oral Contraceptive Pills Cause Vulvodynia? Time to Finally End the Controversy. The debate about the role of oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) in vulvodynia has been underway for almost two decades.

Creating Research Networks to Improve Outcomes in Pelvic Pain International Pelvic Pain Society’s mission is bring hope to and to change the lives of sufferers of chronic pelvic pain.

Imagine your Pelvic Floor like a Twisted Door… How well would it Open & Close? New Perspectives from The Integrated Systems Model for Women’s Health Scientific research suggests that function of the pelvis is essential for the performance of almost every task.

Welcome to the International Pelvic Pain Society’s new website and blog!