By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“women need to start a relationship with their pelvis, looking at the outside of it, touching the inside of it, talking and listening to it, and loving it. If you are having problems with your pelvic floor, it’s telling you, “Hey, I am here and you’ve been ignoring me and something has to change.” – Leslie Howard
Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) is focused in the area below the naval and between the hips and lasts six months or longer. CPP can have multiple causes; a symptom of another disease, or it can be a condition in its own right. Millions of men and women suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction every year. In fact, over 4 million American women under the age of 40 are diagnosed with pelvic pain or incontinence. Despite this staggering figure, people often feel alone, ashamed, and frustrated with the process of being properly diagnosed and treated. There are two strategies to treating chronic pelvic pain (CPP), either treating the symptoms or the underlying cause. Typically, it is treated with drugs and/or hormones, including pain relievers, antibiotics, antidepressants, and birth control pills, with physical or psychological therapy, or even with surgery.
Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of health benefits. These include relief of chronic pain. So, it makes sense to explore the effectiveness of yoga therapy for CPP in combination with treatment as usual. In today’s Research News article “Effects of yogic intervention on pain scores and quality of life in females with chronic pelvic pain.” See:
or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:
Saxena and colleagues recruited patients with chronic pelvic pain (CPP) and randomly assigned them to receive either treatment as usual or treatment as usual in combination with yoga therapy. The women were measured for pain levels and quality of life both before and after the 8-weeks of treatment. Yoga therapy occurred 5 times per week for 8 weeks and included deep breathing, chanting, postures, regulated breathing and relaxation, etc.
They found that the two groups had equivalent levels of pain before treatment, but after treatment the pain levels of the yoga therapy group were reduced virtually in half while the treatment as usual group was unchanged. In addition, yoga therapy produced significant improvements in the quality of life by about a third for the patients, with increases in the physical, psychological, and social domains of quality of life, and a significant but smaller increase in the environmental domain.
These are excellent results that indicate that yoga therapy can produce clinically significant improvements in pain levels and quality of life in patients with chronic pelvic pain (CPP). Since yoga practice is known to strengthen the abdominal muscles, this may be the reason for the improvements. In addition, the contemplative components of yoga therapy are known to improve the individual’s ability to cope with chronic pain and this may also be responsible for the improvements. Regardless, it is clear that yoga therapy is a safe and effective treatment that complements treatment as usual and produces clinically significant improvements in CPP.
So, reduce pelvic pain in women with yoga.
“The physical postures of yoga can help relieve pain in a number of ways. The most obvious is the ability of a well-rounded yoga practice to lower stress levels. Stress makes muscles more likely to go into spasm, and muscle spasms are an underappreciated contributor to both acute and chronic pain. . . The practice of asana, beyond its ability to induce relaxation, can be an effective way to relieve muscle tightness. In contrast to many other forms of exercise, yoga promotes both strength and flexibility in muscles.” – Timothy McCall
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Saxena R, Gupta M, Shankar N, Jain S, Saxena A. Effects of yogic intervention on pain scores and quality of life in females with chronic pelvic pain. Int J Yoga [serial online] 2017 [cited 2016 Nov 23];10:9-15. Available from: http://www.ijoy.org.in/text.asp?2017/10/1/9/186155
Context: Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) is a common condition of women of the reproductive age group. It has a negative impact on a woman’s personal health and quality of life (QOL). Practicing yoga has shown numerous benefits in various chronic painful conditions.
Aim: To study the effects of yogic intervention on pain scores and quality of life in females of reproductive age group with CPP, on conventional therapy.
Settings and Design: It is a follow-up, randomized case-control study done in a tertiary care hospital.
Subjects and Methods: Sixty female patients of CPP in the age group of 18-45 years were randomly divided into Group I (n = 30) and Group II (n = 30). Group I received only conventional therapy in the form of NSAIDS and Group II received yoga therapy in the form of asanas, pranayama, and relaxation along with the conventional therapy for 8 weeks. They were assessed twice (pre- and post-treatment) for pain scores through visual analog scale (VAS) score and QOL by the World Health Organization quality of life-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF) questionnaire.
Statistical Analysis Used: Repeated measure ANOVA followed by Tukey’s test. P < 0.05 was considered significant.
Results: After 8 weeks of yogic intervention, Group II patients showed a significant decrease in intensity of pain seen by a decrease in VAS score (P < 0.001) and improvement in the quality of life with a significant increase (P < 0.001) in physical, psychological, social, and environmental domain scores of WHOQOL-BREF.
Conclusions: The practice of yoga causes a reduction in the pain intensity and improves the quality of life in patients with chronic pelvic pain.