The School of Pelvic Health is BACK!

Yes, you read that right: We’re doing another semester of our very successful School of Pelvic Health! Starting on March 17th, our own Stephanie Stamas, PT, DPT, will lead you through seven weeks of FREE classes related to pelvic health. These include but are not limited to a review of pelvic floor anatomy (March 17, “Something’s Wrong With My What?”), sexuality and pelvic health (April 7, “Pain & Sexuality: Is it all in my head?”), and much, much more. See the flyer below for more classes (click to enlarge).

At each session, snacks and beverages will be provided, and a $20 voucher for BBPT products will be given to individuals who attend five or more classes. First-time participants will get a FREE copy of Amy’s new DVD, Healing Pelvic and Abdominal Pain.

If you’re interested in attending our School of Pelvic Health classes, you MUST sign up by RSVPing at this link. Spaces fill up quickly, so be sure to do it soon!

If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call in the office at 212.354.2622. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Anti-Anxiety Medication and Chronic Pain

In his new book Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind, author David Linden explores the way the brain, the skin, and the nerves interact to create pleasure and pain. In this interview with NPR, Linden discusses the way anti-anxiety medication can affect chronic pain, in that the former can partially reduce the latter.

Linden says:

“So it turns out that the emotional pain centers are richly interconnected with regions of our brain having to do with cognition and anxiety and anticipation. So this is why many people who suffer from chronic pain can get partial relief from anti-anxiety medication. It’s not that the anti-anxiety medication directly affects pain-perception — what it does is it breaks this horrible positive feedback loop between anxiety and chronic pain.”

In many cases, Linden says, anxiety can trigger more chronic pain. So if you have less anxiety, he suggests, maybe you can have less pain as well.

What do you think? Have you ever been prescribed anti-anxiety medication for chronic pain? If so, how did it work for you?

PT In-Service: Alignment and Core Exercises

By Amy Stein

Our famous Dania Kafka, who is an amazing physical therapist and Pilates instructor, recently discussed alignment, posture and core exercises correctly at our latest PT In-Service. She helped us with proper cueing because we don’t want pelvic pain patients to utilize the pelvic floor muscles, or limit their use, with any core stabilization exercises. We went over how to gently engage the transverse abdominus, which is one of the core muscles and helps with pelvic and trunk stability. If this muscle is weak and the patient is overusing their pelvic floor, they can end up with pelvic pain. Core and trunk muscle imbalances can be one of many reasons a patient ends up with pelvic pain and/or pelvic weakness. Therefore, it is important to have a strong and balanced core. Dania proceeded to lead us through a series of transverse abdominus exercises that were adapted by Shirley Sahrmann, PT, and we incorporated diaphragmatic breathing with each exercise. We practiced neutral spine versus posterior pelvic tilt to compare the difference, and discussed with which populations we would use which position.

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With any pain condition, if there are active trigger points, tightened and/or shortened tissue, you need to address these impairments prior to strengthening these muscles. Otherwise you can exacerbate trigger points and continue to shorten tissues. It is essential to make sure these conditions are resolved prior to starting a core exercise to that specific area.

With regard to pelvic floor weakness, including incontinence and post surgical weakness (prostatectomy, prolapse, etc.), it is important to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles correctly and the transverse abdominus correctly, as well as the rest of the core muscles.

Monitoring each patient with each exercise, is essential for their recovery, in order not to worsen any condition. Starting slow and in a controlled environment is key.

If you have any questions with regard to Pilates and core exercises and when to introduce them for pelvic pain, or pelvic weakness, feel free to call us and ask for any of our PTs. Or, attend our upcoming Pelvic Health 101 this spring!

South of Your Border: Straight Answers About Pelvic Health

We love finding pelvic health educational events all across the country and the world, so we’re excited to share the upcoming “South of Your Border: Straight Answers About Pelvic Health” event happening at the Banner Health Center in Surprise, Arizona (13995 W. Statler Blvd.) on February 12. The event is free, and will take place from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Advance registration is required, which you can do via phone at (602) 230-CARE (2273) or online.

At this event, Dr. Leszek Grabowski,  will discuss female pelvic health, with the range of topics including incontinence, fibroids, menopause, and much more. Dr. Grabowski specializes in obstetrics and gynecology, specifically the screening and treatment of gynecologic conditions. In addition to this discussion, there will also be a Q&A, chances to win door prizes, refreshments, and a gift for all those in attendance.

painting_sizedforwebThe Banner Health Center is a part of Spirit of Women, “a coalition of American hospitals committed to making good health easier for women and their families.” There are Spirit of Women hospitals located throughout Arizona and Colorado, and the coalition sponsors health-related informative events throughout the year. Not only that, but Spirit of Women also “provides opportunities for women and their families to learn more about their health, get regular updates and be part of a community focused on well-being.” We fully support this endeavor!

If you are in or near Surprise on February 12 and are interested in learning more about female pelvic health, we encourage you to attend this event, not to mention other Spirit of Women events throughout the year.

Jennifer Aniston, Cake, and Chronic Pain

In the new film Cake, coming out nationwide on Friday, Jennifer Aniston portrays Claire, a woman suffering from chronic pain, who finds herself learning how to deal with the suicide of a member in her chronic pain support group. While Aniston has received rave reviews for her performance, we’re curious to see the film ourselves. How is chronic pain portrayed? It is one of the first times chronic pain has ever been the subject of a narrative film, let alone one starring a major actress like Aniston.

So far, it seems many with chronic pain have reached out to the actress to say thank you for giving voice to pain that is often dismissed as “not real,”or “easily fixable,” as Aniston says in today’s TODAY show interview with Robin Roberts. Directed by Daniel Barnes, the film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014 to a standing ovation.

Will you be going to see Cake? When you see it, let us know what you think in the comments! The trailer is below for you to view, as well.

An Unnecessary Hysterectomy

According to an article in The Huffington Post, a new study performed by the University of Michigan and Wayne State University suggests one in five women undergoing hysterectomy surgery never needed the procedure. In fact, the article states, hysterectomy “is the second most common surgery performed on reproductive-age women in the United States, after the cesarean section. An estimated 1 in 3 women in this country will have had their uterus removed by age 60.” This is a scary thought, especially from the point of view of a pelvic floor physical therapist because our primary defense against musculoskeletal causes of abdomino-pelvic pain is, of course, physical therapy. The article states that one doctor, Dr. Lauren Streicher of Northwestern University’s Obstetrics and Gynecology department, said it’s possible the women recorded in the study were offered other treatments and then refused them, which wouldn’t have shown up in the medical charts evaluated for the study. Even so, she was still surprised other non-invasive treatment options like pelvic floor physical therapies were so underutilized. Like Dr. Streicher, we hope women are being given all of their options before making a choice–and that they are also given the opportunity to make the choice to begin with. A hysterectomy should not be the only option in treating pelvic pain, be it endometriosis, abnormal bleeding, or what have you. Instead, other, more benign therapies like some mentioned in the article –IUD, birth control pills, (i.e…hormonal therapy), NSAIDs (non-sterioidal anti-inflammatories), pelvic floor and abdominal physical therapy–should be first line of treatment for certain conditions, like endometriosis, painful periods, and any other abdomino-pelvic pain conditions. Obviously any underlying serious gynecological pathology should be addressed appropriately, but if nothing is found, then hormonal therapy should be questioned, and perhaps pelvic floor physical therapy used instead. Within this realm, there are a variety of treatments and exercises one can perform to relieve much of this pain before surgery of any kind is necessary. In Amy’s book, Heal Pelvic Pain, she reviews ways to treat pelvic pain without undergoing surgery of any kind, let alone one so major as a hysterectomy. We encourage you to pick up her book or her DVD, Healing Pelvic and Abdominal Pain, before considering a more drastic choice like surgery.

Exercising the Blues Away

Winter can be a difficult time for many people, physically and emotionally. Bodies may hurt from the cold, or there may be feelings of anxiety and depression. Exercise can help ease all of these feelings, however. In a recent article on the Mayo Clinic website, the Mayo staff details a list of ways this can work. While getting motivated can be difficult, the clinic writes, beginning on a path of regular exercise can only benefit your health in the long run.

Exercise releases brain chemicals that produce positive feelings throughout the body–neurotransmitters, endorphins, and endocannabinoids are some of them. When these chemicals are released, you can feel happier and more confident within yourself. Exercise  helps you manage your emotional stress in a positive way. Instead of thinking about what makes you sad, you’re taking steps to change it, which can lead to continued feelings of motivation and confidence. Exercise also fights chemicals in the immune system that can make depression worse, and increases your body temperature, fighting the metaphorical and literal cold.

If taking up an exercise routine is daunting to you, you can start small by incorporating more physical activities into your life. This can be anything that gets you moving: going grocery shopping, doing laundry, cleaning the house, taking a brisk walk, things like that. You can also think about a physical activity or exercise that you enjoy doing, and make that your outlet. This way, it’s not a chore–it’s something you love that’s also really good for you.

As little as 30 minutes of exercise per day for five days can begin to improve symptoms of depression. While the links between exercise, anxiety, and depression aren’t totally clear, exercise has been shown time and again to improve those symptoms.

Learn more about the link between anxiety, depression, and exercise in this article on the Mayo Clinic’s website here. What activities will you be participating in to lift your mood? Tell us in the comments!

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