Endometriosis is a chronic gynecological illness affecting women worldwide but only few of us have heard about the condition. If they have heard about it but they lack information so they tend to ignore their symptoms. And it becomes a common cause for infertility in women. Therefore, early detection is important to control the damage. Endometriosis is a condition commonly diagnosed at age of 25-35 years therefore this means it is a disease of menstruation. Endometrium is the innermost lining of the uterus and it functions to maintain the patency of the uterine cavity. Every month, this lining gets thickened and renew itself to prepare for pregnancy. And when pregnancy doesn’t happen, the endometrium sheds and this process is called as menstruation. In endometriosis condition, the endometrium is found outside the uterine cavity.
Symptoms of endometriosis
When they migrate outside the uterine cavity they result in the inflammation of that area. Common symptoms associated with endometriosis include:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Mood swings around menstruation
- Constant/intermittent pelvic or low backache (unilateral or bilateral)
Some other symptoms are heavy bleeding during menstruation for several days, bowel and urinary disorders, nausea, infertility, chronic fatigue, referred pain to low back, groin, posterior leg, abdominal and supra pubic area. Onlymyhealth editorial team talked to Dr. Neha Gill, Senior Physiotherapist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chandigarh, to know if endometriosis can be managed with physiotherapy and how.
How can physiotherapy help in endometriosis?
Pelvic floor dysfunction is the most common problem faced by women with endometriosis. Inflammation can lead to abdominal and pelvic pain. There is a tendency of tight pelvic floor muscles in response to chronic pain. Along with pelvic pain, they can also experience pain in back, hips or sacroiliac joints. They may experience trouble in emptying the bladder fully. They can also suffer from chronic constipation. It can also affect the body posture, tone of the muscles and body alignment.
Therefore, the role of a physiotherapist is to relax the tensed up area and restore body alignment. Home exercise programs will improve muscle length of tightened muscles. So stretching exercises are focused on hips muscles. Further core muscle training is also given. So the whole program may take around 6- 12 weeks. Physiotherapy treatment may include:
- Physiotherapeutic modalities for pain reduction
- Pelvic floor muscle stretching exercises
- Manual spinal mobilization
- Nerve mobilisations
- Relaxation techniques
Physiotherapy is not a primary part of the treatment or care for most of the women who have been diagnosed or are experiencing the symptoms of endometriosis, neither before nor after the surgery, but it is helpful in the management of a few symptoms. Physiotherapists are experts who can give in-hand manual therapy. Physiotherapy helps in making your muscles release and relax at ease. It helps in improving pain and function of the body. It is basically aimed to work on your pelvic floor muscles, when it comes to endometriosis. Every woman experiences different degree of pain and severity of other symptoms.
Endometriosis treatment methods are surgical removal of endometriosis lesions and scar tissue, hormonal therapy to reduce estrogen or increase progesterone levels and anti-inflammatory and anti-neuropathic pain medicines prescribed by the doctor. Women with endometriosis are also at a higher risk of developing bladder pain syndrome (also called interstitial cystitis) and have pain that can develop in one organ and expand in others through the pelvis.