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An Integrated Approach to Pelvic Pain


Interview with Robert J. Echenberg, medical advisory board ICA.

ICAUpdate-(2015-Spring)Echenberg-1Dr. Robert J. Echenberg is the founder of the Echenberg Institute for Pelvic and Sexual Pain in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Previously known as the Institute for Women in Pain, Dr. Echenberg’s practice is one of the first privately owned multi-disciplinary practices exclusively specializing in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of chronic pelvic pain (CPP). Since its inception in 2006, the Institute has treated more than 1,200 women and a growing number of men with pelvic and sexual pain disorders from 25 states and five countries.

A member of ICA’s Medical Advisory Board, Dr. Echenberg is the author of the book Secret Suffering: How Women’s Pelvic and Sexual Pain Affects Their Relationships. Dr. Echenberg spoke with ICA Update about IC and overlapping conditions, why education must come before medication, and ways in which the medical system must change to address the needs of patients with overlapping chronic inflammatory and pain conditions.

An Integrated Approach to Pelvic Pain was published in the current edition of the ICA Update.

The Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA) is the only nonprofit association dedicated solely to improving the quality of healthcare and lives of people living with interstitial cystitis (IC).

Interview—Mark Toner
Mark Toner is editor of ICA Update

Talk about how IC fits into the variety of overlapping conditions you treat.

I started this program in 2001 when asked to develop a nonsurgical approach to female pelvic pain through our  department of obstetrics and gynecology. We knew that all over the country young women were receiving multiple invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for persistent and otherwise unexplained painful symptoms in the pelvic region (between the belly button and mid thigh). I found early on that IC was a cornerstone, if not one of the most common triggers of pelvic pain.

There’s a huge spectrum of pelvic pain patients, both male and female. Many conditions within the pelvic organs such as IC, endometriosis, and IBS are common organ or visceral generators of pain within the pelvis, but what I soon realized is that we were generally not even thinking of all the muscles, ligaments, and nerves that almost always contribute to the pain itself.

Much of the literature and my own experience since 2001 points to bladder pain syndromes being at least part of the picture of chronic pelvic, genital, and sexual pain about 80 to 85 percent of the time. That’s a huge number, and chronic pelvic pain translates into tens of millions of individuals in the U.S. alone. Not only are multiple parts of the anatomic pelvis involved in persistent painful pelvic symptoms, but there are also many overlapping inflammatory issues and other pain syndromes commonly associated with CPP. These include migraine, fibromyalgia, TMJ, multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, all the autoimmune disorders, and others. IC patients are among large numbers of people suffering not only pain, but also fatigue, sleep disorders, hypersensitivities, allergies, and other slowly disabling illnesses that plague our health care system. Continue Reading

Blog | Sexology 101 | The Internal Clitoris


Museum Of Sex Img_0927Hallelujah! Pardon my pun here, especially as I’m preaching sexuality on a Sunday morning but finally, here is some thorough research and attention for the clitoris. Thank you Louise Smith for sending this link to me.. I think it’s essential info for everyone, not just women with PN. Thank you melodiousmsm for writing this and thank you to artist and sex educator, Betty Dodson for the fabulous artwork.

(excerpt from The Internal Clitoris. Read full post here)

…Let’s also remember, female orgasm is not solely about the clitoris and vagina either. It is far more complex and also involves the workings of multiple nerves, tissues, muscles, reflexes, and mental effort. Some women can think themselves to orgasm. Others can orgasm simply by flexing their pelvic muscles. Considering all the components involved plus the variability of human beings and their anatomies, it’s extremely important to remember no two people are the same. What works for one woman may not work for another. In other words, it’s all custom under the hood….

…What really blows my mind is the plethora of misinformation that exists in textbooks, professional medical guides, and on the internet. Take for example, in one of my undergraduate textbooks titled Understanding Human Sexuality, the clitoris is depicted merely as just the glans. The sad fact is it wasn’t until the 1990’s that researchers began using MRI to study the internal structure of the clitoris. By then, the intricate details of the penis were already well-known.

(Some of you may find these drawings explicit. You may also have to turn off your ‘safety’ to watch this)

Continue Reading

Pudendal Neuralgia Association, Inc

(excerpt from www.pudendalassociation.org)

Who We Are

The Pudendal Neuralgia Association, Inc. was established in 2013 as a non-profit organization in the state of Massachussetts. We provide educational services to pudendal neuralgia patients and their families as well as medical personnel in English and in Spanish.

Our wish is to help improve the quality of life of pudendal neuralgia sufferers.

Members of The Executive Board

Dahri I. McFaline, M.Ed.Executive Director, President
MaryBeth Scalice, Ed.D. Coordinator of Psychospiritual Services
Andrea M. Kaubris – Clerk
Rosalyn Feliciano, M.A. IDET – Instructional Designer
Raena Avalon – Consultant
Maureen N. Strong, CPA – Treasurer

Board of Directors:

Kara Moylan MacLean, M.Ed.
Richard P. Marvel, MD
Jose R. McFaline-Figueroa, MD PhD
Jyotsna Nagda, MD
Mickey Nilsen
David Podolsky, JD
Clinton Michael Radenbaugh

Our Goals

  • Establish and maintain a telephone hotline to provide support for pudendal neuralgia sufferers seeking emotional guidance.
  • Identify appropriate resources to assist affected patients and their families in coping with their chronic pain, daily activities, emotional stress and financial burdens
  • Locate medical resources available in the vicinity of the affected patients’ community and facilitate their access.
  • Provide counseling services.
  • Educate patients in new ways to regain their individual and financial independence so that they may once again feel they are contributing members of society.
  • Facilitate training programs for medical personnel in the latest pain management treatments and surgical procedures for pudendal neuralgia and pudendal entrapment patients.
  • Establish a capital campaign to create aHope Centerto accommodate patients and their families who travel long distances for medical treatment.
  • Maintain online information about the latest treatments and medical procedures.Pudendal Neuralgia Association, Inc

Visual Pursuits book review on Art & Chronic Pain – A Self Portrait


I’ve mentioned before I live in an art hub of Melbourne. I’ve also made it clear how much I love my community and how much the people living beside me have helped me manage my pain by energising me with their friendship, their creative work and some most distracting conversation.

These inspiring creatives (across all forms of art media), make me feel at ease, even as my painful-Soula-self. Whether in pain, feeling (or not) up to outings, when I appear leaning and sitting in all sorts of positions, and in some cases requiring their help to carry things home, or leave them behind for Theo to pick up later, I always feel accepted and loved, and that makes me so damn happy!

So, when one of those divine people, Marguerite Brown, reviews my book, I feel quite chuffed. In fact more than chuffed, honoured, that she spent her time to write a review in her own beautifully articulated words and publish it on her amazing blog, Visual Pursuits.

For anyone considering purchasing my book, or if you already have, I recommend Margue’s insight, it’s a brilliant review. Here’s a snippet:

In Art and Chronic Pain – A Self Portrait, artist Soula Mantalvanos shares her experience with chronic pain, which has been a debilitating presence in her life for almost seven years. Soula suffers from Pudendal Neuralgia, a painful nerve condition that developed following an accident where a fit ball that she was sitting on burst, causing her to drop violently to the concrete floor beneath.

Early on in the book Soula describes that split-second, and the devastating effects that followed. A highly active yoga-loving woman before the accident, throughout the book Soula gives a deeply personal account of the psychological, emotional and physical impacts of living with chronic pain for so many years.  These negative effects were compounded by the fact that her condition Pudendal Neuralgia baffled her doctors, and took four and a half years to even diagnose.

Soula weaves her story through a spare yet effective use of text, combined with evocative imagery that gives visual form to one of the most insidious aspects of chronic pain, its complete invisibility to the outside world.

To convey the loss of control over her physical being that has been presented by Pudendal Neuralgia, the artist commissioned a marionette in her own likeness by marionette maker Colleen Burke.  The result is an exquisitely crafted and hauntingly realistic version of herself in doll-like form. Soula paints, draws and collages representations of the marionette at various points throughout the book.

Read more…

The Hurting Strings, my crowd funding campaign

Campaign message

Now here’s something I didn’t see coming, my pain journey being transformed into an educational documentary about Pudendal Neuralgia (PN). And I have to warn you, there won’t be much smiling and hiding of pain if this happens.

One of those strange-but-true occurrences in life found me introduced to handmadefilms.com.au and I now have a unique opportunity to help with my PN message. The intended outcome is to have a documentary film made that will be free for practitioners, therapists and people in pain around the world, and for them to share for educational and therapeutic purposes.

Early diagnosis of PN is crucial for quality of life, in fact if I had been diagnosed sooner, I believe I would not have such a serious life long pain issue now. I want to change this bad life experience into something good… into Pelvic Pain education. I’m hoping you can help me raise some of the production costs.

Watch below and contribute via PayPal. Follow our progress by subscribing to The Hurting Strings feed.

Thank you.

The Hurting Strings, an artist’s story of pain from Soula Mantalvanos on Vimeo.

How do I know if I have PN or PNE?


Pelvic Health Rehab Centre
Excerpt from www.pelvicpainrehab.com

February 27, 2013, Posted by Stephanie Prendergast

Part I in the “Demystifying Pudendal Neuralgia” Series

For so many the term “pudendal neuralgia” conveys a frightening and mysterious chronic pain diagnosis. And to be sure, at one time, receiving a diagnosis of pudendal neuralgia, or “PN” as it’s commonly called, was truly terrifying, especially considering that it was against the backdrop of a medical community that didn’t have answers and an online community rife with misinformation.

However, “pudendal neuralgia” literally means “shooting, stabbing pain along the distribution of the pudendal nerve.” So in reality, pudendal neuralgia is not a dark, mysterious diagnosis, it’s simply pain anywhere along the nerve that innervates the pelvic floor.

While progress has been made in the treatment of PN over the past decade, there continues to be a tremendous amount of confusion swirling around the diagnosis, not the least of which is the massive confusion surrounding the difference between the diagnosis of PN versus the diagnosis of PNE and what is the appropriate course of treatment for each.

In this post, I’m going to tackle those two points. But, that’s not the last you’ll hear about PN on this blog. It’s a topic I’ve spent my career embroiled in, and it’s one that I’m passionate about.

So this post marks the beginning of what will be a series on PN. Further posts in the series will tackle PT as a treatment for PN, the PNE decompression surgery, the current use of the “Three Tesla MRI” as a test for PNE, and the role of central sensitization in PN.

A Tortuous Course

Before I get into PN versus PNE, I want to first give you a brief explanation of the physiology of the pudendal nerve and the diagnosis of PN.

The pudendal nerve is a large nerve that arises from the S2, S3, and S4 nerve roots in the sacrum, and divides into three branches—the inferior rectal nerve, the perineal branch, and the dorsal clitoral/penile branch. The nerve travels a tortuous course through the pelvis to innervate:

• the majority of the pelvic floor muscles,
• the perineum,
• the perianal area,
• the distal third of the urethra
• part of the anal canal
• the skin of the vulva, the clitoris, portions of the labia in women,
• and the penis and scrotum in men.

The pudendal nerve travels a torturous course through the pelvis.

Patients with PN can have tingling, stabbing, and/or shooting pain anywhere in the territory of the nerve. Symptoms include vulvar or penile pain, perineal pain, anal pain, clitoral pain, and pain at the ischial tuberosities as well as pain with bowel movements, urination, and orgasm.

One of the things that make the pudendal nerve so unusual is that it doesn’t just have motor and sensory fibers like other nerves that exist outside of the brain and spinal cord, it also has autonomic fibers.

Here’s the significance of this unusual quality: Motor and sensory fibers innervate somatic structures, like muscles, giving us voluntary control over them. Whereas structures innervated by autonomic fibers are not under our voluntary control. The heart, lungs, and GI tract are examples of such structures.

So it’s thanks to the autonomic fibers of the pudendal nerve that our pelvic floor muscles always maintain a degree of tone, which enables us to remain continent. But we do have the ability to override the tone in our pelvic floor muscles and further contract or relax them when we wish. So, the pudendal nerve is only partially under autonomic control.

What is the relevance of this to our discussion of PN symptoms? Well, it’s because of these autonomic fibers that patients with PN can experience disturbing feelings of sympathetic upregulation when their pain spikes. Symptoms such as:

• an increase in heart rate,
• a decrease in the mobility of the large intestines,
• a constriction of blood vessels,
• pupil dilation,
• perspiration,
• a rise in blood pressure
• goosebumps, and
• sweating, agitation, and anxiety.

I’ve had many patients that have reported these symptoms. Many have told me that they thought they were going crazy or were having an anxiety attack at those times. So it’s important that patients are aware of this feature of the nerve. They’re not crazy! And with the proper treatment, these symptoms can be stopped.

The Pudendal Nerve in Men


In order to best understand the differences between PN and PNE, you need to have a sense of the history of both diagnoses.

I began working with pelvic pain patients in 2001. Back then, nearly every patient I saw had been suffering for at least five years, often longer, had seen an average of ten other providers, and was in tremendous pain. Across the board, these patients had been dismissed, misdiagnosed, and mistreated.

However, when I came into the pelvic pain picture, a shift was happening in the medical community. It was sinking in that pelvic pain was a valid health issue that needed to be addressed. “PN,” “vulvodynia,” and “IC” were all diagnoses that had individually made their way onto the scene, but collectively they were now being handed down to patients with more frequency. So, for instance, a patient who had been told her symptoms were “all in her head” was now given a diagnosis of “PN.”

What did it mean to be diagnosed with PN back then?

Because this was a patient demographic that had been mistreated for so long, for the majority of these patients, their pain had become ingrained in their nervous systems. So as a result, the treatments that were administered, such as nerve blocks, medication and PT were not successful because they were only aimed at the periphery of the patients’ pain, not the peripheral and central nervous systems. Plus, there wasn’t the same level of understanding of the myofascial musculoskeletal component of pelvic pain or the need for a multidisciplinary approach to treatment that there is today.

Then sometime around 2003, pudendal nerve entrapment or “PNE” became the diagnosis du jour. PNE was first mentioned in 1988, but became popular as a diagnosis around 2003, most likely because of chat rooms about the condition on the Internet.

PNE is most commonly defined as a physiological entrapment of the pudendal nerve that requires surgical release. While “PNE” can certainly cause PN, it’s far from the only cause. However, one of the symptoms of PNE at the time was “pain with sitting.” Therefore, anyone who had pain with sitting, all of a sudden had nerve entrapment. Plus, the terms “PN” and “PNE” were suddenly becoming used interchangeably. So too often, as soon as there was the inkling that the pudendal nerve was involved in a patient’s pain, he or she was told entrapment was the cause and three nerve blocks and decompression surgery was the answer.

Clearly, providers were systemically over diagnosing patients with PNE. Intentions were in the right place. Providers wanted to successfully diagnose and treat their patients, and patients, for their part, wanted to get better.

PNE had emerged in the literature as a diagnosis in the 1980s when almost nothing was known about myofascial pain and chronic pain syndromes in general. Surgeons and anesthesiologists in Europe were the first ones to take an interest in PNE, and as a result the treatment methods that were developed focused on nerve blocks and decompression surgery.

Electrophysiological testing also fell within the bailiwick of this particular group of physicians, so these are the testing methods that were used to determine PN/PNE. (Remember, for a period of time the two became muddled together.) So if PN/PNE was suspected, a pudendal nerve terminal motor latency test or a “PNTMLT”, which is a nerve conduction velocity test was administered to “verify” the diagnosis. Next, patients were given three nerve blocks and medication.

For its part, A PNTMLT is a test that measures nerve conduction velocity times. The test is administered by inserting a small needle into the ventral external anal sphincter (the portion innervated by the perineal branch of the pudendal nerve). The doctor than inserts a gloved finger with an electrode into the anus and delivers a charge to the perineal branch of the pudendal nerve at the ischial spine. The recording needle electrode captures the amount of time it takes for the signal to get from the ischial spine to the sphincter. If the time is “delayed” the test is considered to be positive. This test is incredibly painful and can cause a flare that can last for weeks. Plus, at the time of testing, the secondary muscle spasm associated with the pain of the test often makes its readings unattainable.

Historically, with or without the results of a PNTMLT, the next step to treating PN/PNE was to administer nerve blocks and medications. The nerve blocks were painful and provided about four hours of relief at best, and the medication either did not help or caused side effects that were worse than the pain itself.

When that protocol failed (and it almost always did for the above mentioned reasons), the next step on the treatment train was decompression surgery. Patients were told the longer they waited to get the surgery the worse their pain would become. To further complicate matters, for a time, the only surgeons who did the surgery were in France. So patients were traveling to France en masse to have the surgery done.

Fast forward to the present day. Today there’s been a great deal of progress made in our understanding of PN and PNE.

And one of the biggest discoveries is that there is no way to know whether a patient has pudendal nerve entrapment prior to operating. I’m going to say that again because I think it bears repeating: There is no way to determine whether or not someone has pudendal nerve entrapment prior to surgery.

And in fact, the only way to know with any certainty whether there was indeed an entrapment post-surgery is a post-operative finding of pain relief. This is according to research conducted by neurosurgeon, Prof. Roger Robert, and neurologist and urologist, Dr. J.J. Labat, the team of French surgeons that developed the initial surgical technique for the PNE decompression surgery.

No Way to Know

By 2008, several groups of leading PN experts conducted studies and discredited the electrophysiological tests as diagnostic tools of PN/PNE. (A great paper that summarizes the numerous studies that led to the invalidation of the tests is “What is the Place of ENMG Studies in the Diagnosis and Management of Pudendal Neuralgia Related to an Entrapment Syndrome?” by Lefaucher, J.P., Labat, J.J., Amerenco, G., et al.)

In early days when the medical community was working to make heads or tails of a PN/PNE diagnosis, it seemed logical to apply the testing to the diagnosis. After all, it was the protocol used in other parts of the body for neuralgia and entrapment. So why wouldn’t it work for the pudendal nerve? The reason is that pudendal neuralgia and PNE is a sensory problem – pain – and this test measures the speed of motor fibers. We can not correlate the nerve conduction speeds of pain.

There are surgeons who say they believe that they can see entrapment when they open the patient up, that they can see nerves that are grey and look frayed; however, there’s not that much correlation between the levels of pain the patient has, and the doctor’s visual. Plus, surgeons are not operating on asymptomatic individuals, so we don’t know if the asymptomatic population looks the same anatomically. Therefore, it’s a big assumption to say you can see entrapment when we don’t know what “normal” is.

Today PN patients are having MRIs done. (More details on this in the fourth post in this series.) For their part, MRIs can show that there is swelling around the nerve. However, issues other than entrapment, can cause swelling, so again, this is not a appropriate diagnostic test for PNE.

So although patients continue to have these tests done and even to rely on them for proof of entrapment and PN, the fact of the matter is that all the accepted thinking in the field, even by the surgeons who perform the decompression surgery, is that the tests do not confirm either entrapment or pudendal neuralgia.

The History is the Key

The most important factor in deciding whether or not a patient has a possible entrapment is the patient’s history. In fact, this is the thinking espoused by one of the country’s leading PN physicians, Dr. Michael Hibner.

For example, if a patient who had no pelvic pain, had pelvic reconstructive surgery, and woke up from the surgery with shooting, stabbing vaginal pain, then that is likely an entrapment that probably needs to be surgically released. However, if a patient has had seven yeast infections in a row, and develops vaginal burning, it’s not reasonable to conclude that a ligament is entrapping the nerve and causing those symptoms. Connective tissue dysfunction and hypertonic muscles are more likely the cause.

So before a patient, or a surgeon for that matter, goes forward with a nerve decompression surgery, they need to be sure that the patient’s history makes sense.

Some in the medical community, myself included, believe that there are only two hard and fast situations where a nerve will likely be entrapped. One is an anatomical deviation that the patient is born with, and the other is as a result of a problematic pelvic surgery, such as a hysterectomy or a pelvic reconstructive surgery to correct a cystocele, rectocele or prolapse. If a patient has a slow, insidious onset of pain that eventually becomes burning, then that’s probably not entrapment but rather myofascial pelvic pain that is affecting the pudendal nerve.

When PN Plays a Role 

By this point, I hope that I have made it clear that the diagnoses of PN and PNE are not interchangeable and that there are no tests that can show if the pudendal nerve is entrapped or that a patient even has PN.

So then how do you know if you have PN?

Today, a diagnosis of PN is a clinical diagnosis, which means the diagnosis is based on signs, symptoms and medical history of the patient rather than on laboratory examination or medical imaging. Generally, PN symptoms are said to include burning, stabbing and/or shooting pain anywhere in the territory of the nerve.

Plus, a provider can examine the patient’s pelvic floor internally via the rectum or the vagina and upon examination test the pudendal nerve by performing a technique called a “Tinel’s Sign. A Tinel’s Sign is a way to detect irritated nerves. It is performed by lightly tapping over the nerve to elicit a sensation of tingling or “pins and needles” in the distribution of the nerve.

As you may have already realized, many of these symptoms overlap with symptoms of other pelvic floor problems. This can make it difficult to arrive at a definitive, iron-clad diagnosis of PN.

However, at the end of the day, as is the case with most pelvic pain syndromes, not being able to have a written-in-stone diagnosis isn’t a big loss because with pelvic pain, the diagnosis doesn’t dictate a treatment protocol. In fact, there is no standard, one-size-fits-all protocol for treating PN. Not to mention the fact that more often than not, there is going to be a combination of causes. So at the end of the day, if you think about it, “pudendal neuralgia” is more of a symptom than a diagnosis, anyway.

Remember, “pudendal neuralgia” means pain along the distribution of the pudendal nerve. So saying “I have pudendal neuralgia” is analogous to saying “I have burning or stabbing clitoral, vaginal, or penile pain.”

So when it comes to pudendal neuralgia, the most important course of action is to figure out the underlying causes, and then figure out what needs to be done to treat them.

PN Treatment Today

In wrapping up this post, after having spent so much time talking about what not to do when it comes to PN, I’d like to spend some time discussing the actions I do recommend for patients when pudendal neuralgia is suspected. Thankfully, today patients have more reasonable, comprehensive treatment options. The best course of action is for them to approach their treatment with a multidisciplinary team approach in mind.


An important player in on a multidisciplinary team to treat PN is a pelvic floor physical therapist.

At the end of the day, pudendal neuralgia is a myofascial pain syndrome that affects the nerve that innervates the pelvic floor musculature and viscera, so a PT who is expert at treating the pelvic floor should be able to address why that nerve is irritated.

However, many patients are afraid that PT will further irritate their pudendal nerve. Perhaps they’ve read on an online message board that this has happened to others with similar symptoms. Here’s the deal: PTs do not learn about treating the pelvic floor in PT school let alone how to palpate the pudendal nerve. So if a patient sees a PT that does not know their way around the pudendal nerve than yes, that PT could irritate their nerve. That’s why it’s important for the patient to do his or her homework and make sure the PT has proper level of expertise to treat them. (Our next post will delve much more deeply into PT for PN.)


There are a handful of medications that are helpful for PN. One group is SNRIs, which are aimed at calming the central nervous system, such as Cymbalta. Other anticonvulsant drugs such as Lyrica, and Neurontin are also often top choices in this group.

Another group includes tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline and desiprimine.

When working with meds, patients need to realize that they must get to the proper therapeutic dose for the proper length of time before they will experience a medication’s effectiveness. In addition, just because the medication doesn’t take away all of their pain, this doesn’t mean it is not having a therapeutic effect.

Nerve Blocks

In the past, I would have said that pudendal nerve blocks are not therapeutic. However, I believe the reason they did not work for my patients in the past is that the patients that were getting them early most likely had central sensitization due to the severity and the chronicity of their pain, and therefore any treatment directed at the periphery, whether a block, medication, or PT was not going to be as effective as it could be.

However, today, patients are getting diagnosed much earlier in the game; therefore, I believe all of the treatments aimed at the periphery, such as nerve blocks, are having higher success rates.

That said, nerve blocks should never be a patient’s only course of treatment. They are not going to be a silver bullet cure-all. Much of the time, the lasting effect on the patient’s pain is very minimal. If there is a long term effect, it will be that once the anesthetic wears off, the patient will have a little less sensitivity.

So bottom line: my advice is that if a patient has access to a physician in their community who has a reputation as being an expert at administering nerve blocks, and their insurance covers the block, then they should give it a try with the expectation that at best it may help and at worst it may cause a temporary flare. However, if the patient has to travel to another state and spend thousands of dollars to get it done, the possible benefit is not likely worth the travel and expense.

Botox for PN

Botox is very good for muscle hypertonis, which is associated with PN, so if a patient (typically with the direction of their PT), is suspicious that the obterator internus is a large part of their pain/nerve irritation, then Botox may make sense.

A good test run is to have the physician first inject lidocaine into the area to see if there is a positive effect. If some or all of the patient’s pain is reduced or eliminated during the first hour after the injection it may make sense to then inject Botox. One reason for this approach is that Botox is quite expensive, so it’s a good idea to make sure it’s going to be injected into an area that is relevant.

I mention the obturator specifically because that is a muscle that is commonly involved in PN because part of the Alcock’s Canal is made up of the aponeurosis of the obterator internus and so if there is compression in that canal, decreasing the hypertonis will take some of the pressure off of the nerve in the same way that decompression surgery would. So in fact, in such a situation where the nerve is compressed, either Botox or manual therapy can serve to free it up instead of surgery.

I hope this post has fulfilled my goal of shedding light on a few areas of the PN diagnosis that continue to cause confusion. It’s a complicated diagnosis that thankfully is beginning to make more sense, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Speaking of, stay tuned for the next post in our pudendal neuralgia series, which will focus on the role of PT for PN. Be sure and subscribe to the blog if you haven’t already, so you’ll get the next in the series as soon as it’s posted.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the box below. I look forward to hearing from you.

All my best,


About Stephanie Prendergast: Stephanie is the co-founder of the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center, president of the International Pelvic Pain Society, and an organizing member of The World Congress on Abdominal and Pelvic Pain. She has written extensively on the topic of pudendal neuralgia and teaches a course titled “Demystifying Pudendal Neuralgia: A Physical Therapist’s Approach” for physical therapists.

Health Organization for Pudendal Education (HOPE)


HOPE is probably our best online resource for PN, the forum in particular is full of great advice and information from practitioners and patients, around the world including of course, Australia/NZ.


HOPE is a charitable organization that offers support and information to patients who have pudendal neuropathy (PN), pudendal neuralgia (PN), or pudendal nerve entrapment (PNE).  If you have come to this website it is probably because you are in pain or you know someone who is in pain.  Our goal is that after coming here you will be able to develop a plan of action that will help you get your life back.

Visit the website: www.pudendalhope.org or sign up to the forum

MR Neurography, I’d fly for that!


(Excerpt from Dr. Aaron Filler’s website www.nervemed.com/about/dr-aaron-g-filler-md-phd)

Dr. Aaron G. Filler, MD PhD FRCS

Dr. Aaron Filler is the world’s leading expert in treatment of nerve pain. He has revolutionized nerve-pain treatment by inventing several new technologies. One such technology, MR Neurography, enables doctors to use an MRI scanner to examine nerves, previously a difficult-to-impossible tissue to visualize with MR imaging. Dr. Filler’s research in axonal transport is leading to a whole new generation of advanced pain medications. He has developed many new “minimal access” surgery methods that allow him to treat complex nerve problems with small outpatient surgeries. He has also pioneered the use of the Open MRI scanner to do surgeries and other therapies with the ultra-high precision and safety of the magnetic resonance imaging.

At Dr. Filler’s Institute for Nerve Medicine in Santa Monica, California, the key to success remains a very traditional endeavor: listening to the patient and doing a thorough and expert neurological examination. Dr. Filler typically spends more than an hour with each new patient. The results of the initial examination are then strengthened and perfected with application of advanced technology available nowhere else in the world. Continue Reading

ABC Radio National thank you thank you thank you


Finally some accurate coverage and attention. WorkSafe, I hope you were listening, ignore Chronic Pelvic Pain no more!

Honestly, I cried listening to this on Wednesday. Nothing like empathy and understanding after years of pain and hunting for diagnosis and proper treatment. So for anyone who’s (understandably) thought ‘is so-and-so really in pain? I just don’t understand’, please listen to the following 38 minutes.

The world of pelvic pain specialists have jumped on this wonderful exposure, Wednesday was a day that will be marked in medical history. It’s given all sufferers a voice and most importantly an audience. I have a hunch it’s going to take WorkCover a while to acknowledge the issue but I’m going to do my best to change that. I know it’s a long shot but there are people with this pain at home, unable to get up and feed/dress themselves without support because WorkCover have chosen to eliminate ‘chronic pain’ from their assessment guidelines.

None of my treatments have been supported, my support for the rest of, what would have been my working life ended, my impairment found to be 0% (even with an implant scar). I’ve been investigated (poorly I might add) and now left with about 9 hrs of scattered up time a week, having invasive treatment, and completely reliant on Theo’s undivided attention and help, with 0$ support. Of course I’ll do it, but I paid a WorkCover premium and expected it to support me if I hurt myself at work.

Please feel free to share the email. Thank you ALL for your support (well except for WorkCover).

Listen now or Download audio

Broadcast: Wednesday 6 February 2013 9:05AM (view full episode)

Imagine not being able to sit down, go to work or look after your kids because of an overwhelming pain in your pelvis. One of our guests, Vanessa Watson, experienced excruciating pelvic pain for several years and it’s radically altered her life. Vanessa’s story is not uncommon but as the causes for pelvic pain are complex; some women don’t receive adequate medical treatment. So what is known about the causes and could medical treatment and services improve?


Bettina Arndt
Social Commentator
Dr Susan Evans
Gynaecologist and Pain Medicine Physician
Vanessa Watson

Executive Producer Julie Browning

Presenter Natasha Mitchell

Read more…www.abc.net.au

Leon Chaitow


Leon Chaitow FB message

(Image left: from Leon’s FB page showing his support for my website)

From Leon Chaitow’s website

Welcome to my revamped website (fully redesigned and built by my daughter Sasha).

Whether this is your first, or a return, visit – please take your time to explore the various sections and to click on individual book titles to visit pages devoted to more detail of each of these, or for links from where they can be purchased – either in dollars or in sterling.

As you navigate the site you will see that books have been grouped into the following categories, viewable through the dedicated “Bookshop” pages:

  • New/current editions of text books
  • Earlier editions of textbooks that are still available
  • General health titles – suitable for the lay-person
  • Classical books (in print for over 30 years, but still in print)
  • Out of Print titles that are still available – used and sometimes unused
  • Books by my wife Alkmini Chaitow

There is also a section featuring downloadable e-books where some chapters are freely available (in pdf format) as well as the entire book being available for purchase at a reduced price compared with the print version  available on Amazon. In addition the site includes the following features:

Please use the ‘contact’ page to send any ideas you may have for improving the content of the site, but please note that I cannot provide individual advice, or answer questions regarding health care.

The purpose of the site is to promote health information and education, but not to provide specific advice, which can, in my opinion, only be responsibly offered in a traditional setting, where a health care provider is able to fully evaluate an individual’s history and current condition. I look forward to hearing from you.

Chronic Pelvic Pain and Dysfunction: Practical Physical Medicine

by Leon Chaitow with Ruth Lovegrove

(Churchill Livingstone – 2011)
ISBN – 978-0702035326

Leon Chaitow, ND, DO, Registered Osteopath and Naturopath; Honorary Fellow and Former Senior Lecturer, School of Life Sciences, University of Westminster, London, UK; Fellow, British Naturopathic Association

Dr Ruth Lovegrove, PhD, MCSP, Physiotherapist and Lecturer: External Lecturer at Southampton University, UK; Former Research Specialist at Stanford University California, USA

Clearly written and fully illustrated throughout, Chronic Pelvic Pain and Dysfunction: Practical Physical Medicine offers practical, comprehensive coverage of the subject area accompanied by a range of video clips on a bonus DVD.

Prepared by editors of international renown, the book provides clear anatomical descriptions of the structures relevant to the genesis of pelvic pain followed by the current perspectives on the neurological basis of pain, including the influence of psychophysiology. Chapters then address physiological mechanisms for pain generation; including musculoskeletal causes and the role of sport in the evolution of chronic pelvic pain and the influence of gender on pelvic pain syndromes including hormonal imbalance, pregnancy and labour.

Having guided the practitioner through a clinical reasoning process to help establish the differential diagnosis of chronic pelvic pain, the volume addresses the range of therapeutic options available. This includes medical management, the role of nutrition in the control of inflammatory processes, the use of breathing techniques in the relief of pain and anxiety as well as the involvement of biofeedback mechanisms in diagnosis and treatment. The use of soft-tissue manipulation approaches, pelvic floor manual therapy release techniques and osteopathic approaches are also considered along with the use of dry needling, electrotherapy and hydrotherapy.

Leon Chaitow Chronic pelvic pain book coverChronic Pelvic Pain and Dysfunction: Practical Physical Medicine offers practical, validated and clinically relevant information to all practitioners and therapists working in the field of chronic pelvic pain and will be ideal for physiotherapists, osteopathic physicians, chiropractors, manual therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists and naturopaths worldwide.

Read more… www.leonchaitow.com/bookshop-europe/

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Definitions of pain

What is Pudendal Neuralgia (PN)?
Most simply put PN is Carpal Tunnel in the pelvis/buttocks. Compression of the Pudendal Nerve occurs after trauma to the pelvis and is aggravated with pressure. The pain is often described as a toothache like pain, with spasms, sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning. It can be very debilitating.

What is Neuropathic pain?
Neuropathic pain is the result of an injury or malfunction in the peripheral or central nervous system. The pain is often triggered by an injury, but this injury may or may not involve actual damage to the nervous system. More…

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