What I have learned about chronic pain.

As a medical professional, treating chronic pain can be very difficult. We are always looking for new treatment options for vaginal/vulvar pain since one treatment option doesn’t always work for all patients. What I have noticed is the longer a patient has pain, that once pain has advanced from acute to chronic, the more complicated the treatment can become.

Although the field of female sexual dysfunction is expanding, it is still a rather small network of specialists. In this field specialists often consult with other experts for their opinions. I recently visited the office of Dr. Echenberg who runs the Institute for Women In Pain in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He specializes in treating women suffering from multiple types of chronic pain related to the pelvic region. He opened the Institute after 40 years of working in OB/GYN! He felt that women with chronic pelvic pain were suffering in silence and weren’t getting the treatment they needed. He began studying pain management and now has a very successful practice treating women with chronic and oftentimes very severe pelvic pain.

After training with Dr. Echenberg, I fully realized that the longer one lives with chronic pain the more complicated it may become to treat. Although the body is trying to protect itself by sending pain messages, the pain cycle seems to spiral out of control. Pain messages get confused and often times women will report that the pain starts spreading from the pelvis down to their thighs and up towards their back. Multiple trigger points, isolated spots of tenderness, appear on different areas of the body. Pain can also zap neurotransmitters in the brain resulting in depression and anxiety.

If you suffer from chronic pain it is very important to seek treatment. I fully understand that you may have sought treatment several times over several years and feel like nothing has worked for you. Still, I encourage you not to give up and to let you know there are caring medical professionals out there that want to help you. Dr. Echenberg is definitely one of them, and of course, we are too!

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