An Unnecessary Hysterectomy
According to an article in The Huffington Post, a new study performed by the University of Michigan and Wayne State University suggests one in five women undergoing hysterectomy surgery never needed the procedure. In fact, the article states, hysterectomy "is the second most common surgery performed on reproductive-age women in the United States, after the cesarean section. An estimated 1 in 3 women in this country will have had their uterus removed by age 60." This is a scary thought, especially from the point of view of a pelvic floor physical therapist because our primary defense against musculoskeletal causes of abdomino-pelvic pain is, of course, physical therapy. The article states that one doctor, Dr. Lauren Streicher of Northwestern University's Obstetrics and Gynecology department, said it's possible the women recorded in the study were offered other treatments and then refused them, which wouldn't have shown up in the medical charts evaluated for the study. Even so, she was still surprised other non-invasive treatment options like pelvic floor physical therapies were so underutilized. Like Dr. Streicher, we hope women are being given all of their options before making a choice--and that they are also given the opportunity to make the choice to begin with. A hysterectomy should not be the only option in treating pelvic pain, be it endometriosis, abnormal bleeding, or what have you. Instead, other, more benign therapies like some mentioned in the article --IUD, birth control pills, (i.e…hormonal therapy), NSAIDs (non-sterioidal anti-inflammatories), pelvic floor and abdominal physical therapy--should be first line of treatment for certain conditions, like endometriosis, painful periods, and any other abdomino-pelvic pain conditions. Obviously any underlying serious gynecological pathology should be addressed appropriately, but if nothing is found, then hormonal therapy should be questioned, and perhaps pelvic floor physical therapy used instead. Within this realm, there are a variety of treatments and exercises one can perform to relieve much of this pain before surgery of any kind is necessary. In Amy's book, Heal Pelvic Pain, she reviews ways to treat pelvic pain without undergoing surgery of any kind, let alone one so major as a hysterectomy. We encourage you to pick up her book or her DVD, Healing Pelvic and Abdominal Pain, before considering a more drastic choice like surgery.
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