Integrative Rehabilitation for Chronic Pelvic Pain in Adolescents and Young Adults

Brought to you by Creative Healing for Youth in Pain's Parenting Blog

Sabine Combrié, PT, CST-T
September 11, 2023 / 6 mins read

In my practice as a physical therapist, I have been treating more and more young people with pelvic chronic pain. Pelvic chronic pain often presents a challenge for adolescents and young adults, disrupting their daily lives and impeding their overall well-being.

Tailoring treatment approaches to the specific physiological, emotional, and lifestyle needs of this age group is important for effective pain management and improved quality of life. The dynamic changes occurring in the bodies of teenagers and young adults necessitate specialized interventions that consider their growth and activity levels. A comprehensive and holistic approach that integrates physical therapy, visceral manipulation, craniosacral therapy, and personalized strategies is a promising avenue for addressing pelvic pain.

Physical Therapy Perspective

Individualized physical therapy programs for adolescents and young adults are important in managing pelvic chronic pain.

1. Pelvic Floor Muscle Rehabilitation
Adolescents and young adults confront distinctive challenges in managing pelvic pain. Pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation customized to their needs–concentrates on enhancing muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility.

2. Gentle Manual Techniques
Physical therapists skilled in working with this age group employ gentle manual techniques that cater to their ongoing physical development. These techniques take in consideration the sensitivities of adolescents and young adults in targeting muscle imbalances, joint mobility issues, and soft tissue restrictions, all of which contribute to pain relief.

3. Exercise Plans
Recognizing the active lifestyles and preferences of teenagers and young adults, exercise plans are thoughtfully curated to align with their daily activities. Stretching routines, strength-building exercises, and core stabilization techniques not only alleviate pain but also foster healthy movement patterns and posture.

Visceral Manipulation Approach

Integrating visceral manipulation into the treatment provides an added layer of support for adolescents and young adults navigating pelvic chronic pain. When combined with other therapies, visceral manipulation contributes to a well-rounded approach to pain management. Chronic pelvic pain is a complex condition that can come from a variety of underlying causes, including gynecological, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and neurological factors. Visceral manipulation aims to improve the mobility and function of organs in the pelvic region, which may help alleviate pain and improve overall well-being.

1. Emotional Sensitivity
The emotional challenges accompanying physical pain for adolescents and young adults necessitate a sensitive approach. Practitioners of visceral manipulation understand the emotional aspects, approaching their clients with empathy, and recognizing that holistic healing encompasses emotional well-being.

2. Collaborative Multidisciplinary Care
A collaborative approach involving practitioners of visceral manipulation, physical therapists, and other specialists ensures a comprehensive treatment plan. This multidisciplinary framework acknowledges the multifaceted nature of pelvic chronic pain in young people and provides holistic care.

Craniosacral Therapy Angle

Incorporating craniosacral therapy enriches the holistic approach to pelvic pain management for adolescents and young adults. By targeting the craniosacral system, which encompasses the central nervous system and its surrounding fluids (mainly the cerebral spinal fluid), this therapy complements and enhances other interventions.

1. Addressing the Central Nervous System
Craniosacral therapy recognizes the central nervous system's influence on pelvic pain. By stimulating self-healing mechanisms, this therapy aligns with the innate potential within the body for recovery.

2. Emphasis on Stress and Emotion
The teenage and young adult years are often marked by increased stress and emotional challenges. Craniosacral therapy's focus on relaxation and emotional release complements the broader pain management approach, addressing not only physical discomfort but also the emotional strains younger people may be facing.

Empowering Young Individuals

Empowering adolescents and young adults to take an active role in their healing process is crucial. Educating them about what is bothering them, involving them in treatment decisions, and encouraging open communication with healthcare providers provide them with tools to manage their pain, promote self-advocacy, and participate in enhancing their own well-being.

An Integrative Journey Forward

Managing pelvic chronic pain in adolescents and young adults requires a collaborative effort among skilled healthcare professionals. By integrating physical therapy, visceral manipulation, craniosacral therapy, and other possible interventions/therapies, an integrative approach addresses the multidimensional nature of pain and well-being. By focusing on the distinctive needs and emotional aspects of this age group, these therapies offer a clear pathway to enhanced quality of life and effective pain management.