Complementary Therapies for Structural Support with Endometriosis
Amidst the surgery, the hormones, pain killers and nutritional changes, structural support can often be overlooked in the roadmap to healing with endometriosis – but I would argue it’s integral, especially post-surgery.
Your pelvic floor is a bit like a bowl made of lots of different muscles and nerves. In this bowl sits your bladder, uterus and colon, and their functionality is largely controlled by the muscles and nerves within the pelvic floor.
Think about when you’re in pain – what do you do? Perhaps you curl into a ball? Perhaps you tense? Perhaps you find your body seizing up? Overtime, these instinctive reactions cause the muscles in the pelvic floor to tighten, squeezing the nerves and putting added pressure on them.
Additionally, the nerves have become used to receiving pain signals and so the pain pathways between the brain and the nerves are now well worn in and hypersensitive. The brain is so used to feeling some kind of threat within the pelvic area, that it jumps to attention and sends pain signals down in greater quantities than it once did.
Pain can affect many parts of the body
Another issue that occurs overtime is the involvement from other organs, muscles, and nerves in the surrounding areas. Perhaps your pain started around your ovaries and uterus, but over time it’s fanned out to your hips, your bladder, the front of your legs, your lower back, maybe even your rectum. This is sort of the equivalent of a house alarm going off in the middle of the night – eventually, if the owners aren’t there to turn it off, the neighbors start waking up, turning on their lights, maybe even coming out in the street to see what’s going on. All of the nerves in the pelvic area are basically going off like an alarm, and until we start to down-regulate the nervous system and the inflammation in the area, the alarm will continue to grow louder.
Finally, we also have the impact of surgery. Whilst good surgery can play an essential role in endometriosis healing, the majority of people who have abdominal surgery develop adhesions. These adhesions can cause further tightening and distortion of the pelvic floor, and can be a significant source of pain, even after the majority of the endometriosis has been removed.
Reducing pain through structural support
So what can we do about it? Here are four of the main options I like to explore with my clients:
Pelvic floor physiotherapy
Truly, I think pelvic floor physiotherapy should be gold standard in the treatment of endometriosis. Always look for a physio who is specialized in pelvic floor treatment and pelvic floor pain disorders like endometriosis. A good pelvic floor physio will help you to relieve the tension in your muscles and nerves and can also work on some of the adhesions beneath your scar tissue.
Clear passage is a form of visceral manipulation which has been shown to be very effective for endometriosis, SIBO, and infertility. However, it’s costly, so it’s often better used if you have the budget or are really struggling with SIBO and/or infertility. If you have the money, I think it’s worth the investment.
Body work is similar to clear passage, but can take various forms such as massage or acupuncture. Body work is when a therapist uses manual hands-on therapy to support the body to release tensions, obstructions, and scarring that can be the root cause of pain and dysfunction.
If seeing a therapist is out of the question for you, then you could try some stretches and self-massage at home. Here’s an excellent yoga for endo and pelvic pain resource that I share with all of my clients, and Pelvic Sanity has an incredible array of videos demonstrating pelvic floor stretches and fascia release work.
Do you know what your endometriosis phenotype is?