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Published on November 06, 2014

MU Health Care Offers Unique Non-Invasive Treatment Options For Women With Pelvic Pain

COLUMBIA, Mo. — A new University of Missouri Health Care specialty clinic gives women throughout the state a non-invasive option for treatment of pelvic floor pain.

Pelvic floor pain is a common problem that is often ignored. Sarah Hwang, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at MU Health Care and an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the MU School of Medicine, is one of approximately 10 physicians in the country specially trained in treating musculoskeletal problems in women, specifically with pelvic pain.

“Pelvic pain is a surprisingly common problem, and it can be an uncomfortable subject to talk about,” Hwang said. “Pelvic pain can occur anywhere from the belly button to the bottom of the buttock, or it can be pain in your lower back. It is often related to a group of muscles that run along the bottom of the pelvis. Those muscles are responsible for keeping women continent of urine, holding the pelvic organs in place and are even important muscles used when walking.”

MU Health Care’s pelvic pain clinic uses physical therapy, medication management, injections and lifestyle changes to help get women back to health. They treat women who have pain — whether constant, sporadic or at specific times such as during or after intercourse — constipation or other musculoskeletal problems, as well as pregnant women who are experiencing pain. The clinic is located in the new Mizzou Therapy Services clinic at 4040 Range Line St.

Hwang and specially trained physical therapists educate patients on how the muscles work and how to relax and re-train those muscles to prevent further pelvic floor disorders.

“It is similar to treating muscles in other parts of your body, such as in your neck,” said Jennifer Stone, P.T., clinical supervisor of rehabilitation services. “Many people don’t really know what pelvic muscles do, but once they understand their function, patients are empowered in their therapy.”

Many patients will feel improvements after one physical therapy session, and most women return to their previous lifestyle after six to 12 therapy sessions.

Pelvic floor disorder and pain can occur at any age and can happen at many different times, though many women experience pain during pregnancy and after giving birth. Carrie Clark, from Columbia, is a 30-year-old new mother who is currently undergoing treatment for her pelvic floor pain.

“I thought it was normal post-partum complications, and I didn’t realize it was pain that could be easily stopped,” Clark said. “Pelvic floor problems are so unknown for many women, but it is very common during and after pregnancy. If people don’t know there’s a problem, they don’t know to get help.”

Hwang and physical therapists are also working with the patients at MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital to help new mothers if they are experiencing any pelvic pain.

To learn more about pelvic floor pain and disorders, as well as non-invasive treatment options, please call MU Health Care’s pelvic pain clinic at (573) 884-1587.