A bird’s eye view of the pelvic floor muscles
Have you heard of pelvic floor dysfunction? I hadn’t; not before meeting women who suffer from it. And I’d never heard of a pelvic floor before that, either. We’re going to focus today on pelvic floor dysfunction in women (although men can get it). But what is it?
The pelvic floor is made up of a lot of little muscles, nerves, and tissues all working together for your body to function. Imagine it as a tightly-woven basket at the underside of your pelvis, sweeping from front to back, and side to side. Not only does it support the organs of the pelvis, but it also wraps around the urethra, rectum, and vagina. When these muscles, nerves, and tissues stop working properly (they are too tense or too lax), it’s called pelvic floor dysfunction. It can cause pain and difficulty with urination, defecation, intercourse, and lower back pain.
I have heard from several EndoWarriors that they suffer from leg pain; whether it be their hips, upper thighs, or radiating pain down their leg(s). Today we delve a bit deeper into leg pain complaints and Endo. Have upper leg pain? Lower back pain? Tailbone pain? So do a lot of people…but so do a LOT of women with Endometriosis. A 2011 study surveyed 94 people with Endometriosis. Of them, 51% complained of leg pain. Cysts may also be contributing to leg and lower back pain. And although you may have some of these symptoms and think you have sciatic Endometriosis…please be aware that it is considered incredibly rare. And it may just be that your symptoms are a result of pelvic floor muscles being too tight (pelvic floor therapy may help) OR that adhesions and/or Endometriosis has pulled your anatomy out of whack. But, please, do read on:
You’ve likely heard that Endometriosis can grow in all sorts of places inside the body. Well, the bladder and urinary tract are no exception. Endometriosis implants can grow on or inside the walls of the bladder or along the urethra.
Common symptoms patients may complain about with bladder Endo are frequently needing to pee, pain when the bladder is full, painful urination, and an urgent need to pee. Some also suffer from blood in their urine when they’re on their cycles (may be hard to distinguish…given the natural course of what a period does…). This urine-blood may not be perceptible to the naked eye and require a lab test. And as usual, many EndoWarriors only have these symptoms during their periods; others have them 24/7. It should also be noted that many with bladder Endo don’t present any symptoms.
Tabitha had suffered with the pain associated with Endo long before she was diagnosed with Endometriosis when she was 26. Now 30, she lives in Franklin, TN, and her life may be drastically changing due to her ongoing symptoms.
Tabitha’s Journey: I say I was diagnosed at age 26 but the pain and other symptoms have been treated long before that. I’d say it all started at age 23. But the severe back pain started 2 years ago. In the thoracic region around my T8 and T9. It hurts so bad at times that it’s hard to straighten myself up. I have no diagnosis yet but drs say there’s nothing wrong with my spine as far as anything herrniated and no slipped disks. So what else can it be?
Endometriosis and THE WHAT? You mean to tell me that this disease can be found on your…spine? A disease typically diagnosed by gynecologists can grow there? Okay, now this is like some bad sci-fi horror film…But alas…it’s true. A girlfriend dropped the bomb last week that she has it on her spinal cord. So now it’s time to pick my jaw up off of the ground and hit the books. What the hell, Endo. Really? Is nothing sacred?
Endometriosis on or in the spinal cord, vertebrae, or nerves is considered extremely rare. However, it has been found to be wreaking havoc for many women. It can cause symptoms of back pain, weakness, incontinence, sciatica pain, radiating leg pain, groin pain, and monoparesis (weakness to the point of near-paralysis), just to name a few. These symptoms may always be present, may only be present during your menstrual cycle, or may worsen during your menstrual cycle. On top of those symptoms, the Endometriosis also does it’s usual thing: inflammation, scarring, creates pain, etc.