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Patient's extreme pain subsides after pelvic therapy sessions

Patient's extreme pain subsides after pelvic therapy sessions

When Katrin Wagner started experiencing severe pain in her tail bone area last year, she hoped it would subside over time. When it didn't, she visited with Dr. Jennifer Linden during her annual well woman exam. After an extensive examination and a CT scan to rule out any serious medical concerns, Dr. Linden suggested that Katrin see Campbell County Health's Pelvic Physical Therapist Lee Sowada.

"I didn't know something like that existed," Katrin said. "I thought I might have to have surgery. I couldn't even sit for 10 minutes."

In extreme pain, Katrin was receptive to trying pelvic physical therapy if it meant finding relief for the constant pain she was experiencing. With regular appointments the last few months, Katrin said the therapy has made a huge difference for her.

"I'm getting better and better," Katrin said. "The pain is much less. I'm just amazed by it and how it all works. I'm almost pain free now."

Pelvic physical therapy is something that's not well known even though more than 25 million adult Americans suffer from some form of urinary incontinence and other health issues associated with the pelvic region. In Wyoming there are fewer than a handful of pelvic physical therapists in the state.

Lee Sowada has only been practicing at CCH's Rehabilitation Services in Gillette for a little more than a year, but she's been specializing in pelvic physical therapy her entire professional career. With a doctorate in physical therapy, Sowada also specialized in pelvic physical therapy and is currently completing the last certification through Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute.

"I fell into a pelvic therapy rotation," Sowada said. "It felt really different than typical outpatient physical therapy. In helping people, it changed their life in a really profound way."

Sowada works with patients experiencing a number of issues related to pelvic floor dysfunction from urinary incontinence and bowel disorders to pelvic pain and dysfunction. She works closely with patients to help them understand the therapy process, and how all of the pelvic floor muscles can impact the body in different ways.

"Nothing in our body occurs in a bubble," Sowada said. "The treatment always depends on the individual patient."

In many cases using pelvic rehabilitation, more invasive surgeries can be avoided and patients are able to see results quickly. During examination, Sowada is assessing the pelvic muscles to determine if there's pain, the muscles are tight, weak or if other problems exist.

"There are some things you can do through treatment rather than surgery," Sowada said. "Usually people have been experiencing the problem so long and they had no idea there was something that could be done about it."

Statistically about one in four people have some type of pelvic issue, Sowada said, making these health problems a common occurrence. However, because of the nature of the problems, they're often not talked about and many people don't realize that something can be done to help them, she said.

"Sometimes they let these issues go on and on until they're really difficult to treat," Sowada said. "Patients need to know they're not alone. These issues are so common that I'm hoping the more we get the word out, they'll come take advantage because the service exists here."

Article written by Kim Phagan-Hansel, Wyoming freelance writer