Once again I am truly shocked about how dismissive some so-called health care professionals can be when it comes to persistent pelvic pain, particularly in women. I have experienced this myself when constantly asked “does it get worse around your period?” and when you say yes, then there’s a not so subtle eye roll and some sort of insinuation that you should just get on with things. I mean, you only have to look at the recent mesh scandal for a prime example.
Similarly after pregnancy, women are seemingly forgotten about and not taken seriously much of the time. I have just had a client told “what makes you think this back pain is related to your pregnancy?” Errrrrr now mate, let me think for a moment… BECAUSE I GREW A 9lb HUMAN IN MY TINY PELVIS, HAD MAJOR SURGERY AND NOW I CAN’T WALK PROPERLY. I mean this is just not good enough. Being told to “push though” this sort of pain is NOT OK.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have also met some fabulous doctors and therapists of BOTH sexes as well as the shitty ones, but I’m going to rant about when things go wrong.
My client was thankfully referred for imaging as I really thought it necessary at this stage given we have been working 1:1 for 8 weeks now, with some great improvements in strength but this debilitating pain continues and I truly believe no-one should put up with that, especially 18 months post-birth and work with 2 previous therapists. But for a physiotherapist to say on a video conference “it’s just age related degeneration” when it started at 27 is utterly absurd. To tell a mother who can’t walk for more than 30 minutes without severe pain which takes a day to recover from is so unacceptable I’m not surprised she was left in tears. How any person with long-term pain who does not have access to private therapists would cope I don’t know.
It REALLY scares me the number of people out there who must be suffering with everything from pain, dysfunction, incontinence, nerve damage, loss of dignity and loss of quality of life. One of the reasons I’m so incensed about this experience is that I did think these instances were becoming more rare. I’ve had many more people referred for massage and Pilates these days as we want to teach people to move and strengthen their joints, not just take pain killers. But this idiot thinks we shouldn’t be concerned with alignment because everyone is imbalanced. Sure, yes we are but when it’s to a degree that hurts then it’s not reasonable!
NASS (National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society) currently have a brilliant campaign to try to reduce the time for diagnosis for this sort of inflammatory arthritis targeting the back and pelvis. But why does it take a charity to do this? The average is 8 years, yes, 8 YEARS before someone realises what is wrong. I am certainly at that time mark and it tends to be the women who are because we often present differently and the same complaint in women is dismissed as period pain that we should just shut up and deal with while the men are immediately whisked off for imaging. The consequences of long diagnosis delays of this sort of degenerative disease are massive. I’ve been reading the stories of people who now have irreparable spinal fusion and joint damage because things were not treated in time.
I completely understand that my approach isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s widely accepted and what I do to manage my condition, which involves pretty extreme pain. With all this going on, I find it so inconceivable that any physio these days would just shrug and not offer any advice. I think to be dismissive is the most grave of offences, so if this has happened to you, go elsewhere. You have every right to complain if you are not satisfied. You have the right to ask for another referral and hopefully you will find someone who will take things seriously, whatever your issue. But don’t give up and don’t put up!