Pelvic pain is a common condition that affects both men and women. It is characterised by pain and discomfort in the pelvic region, which includes the lower abdomen, pelvis and genital area. Discomfort can range from mild to severe and can be acute or chronic. (1,2,3,4,)

Diagram showing general causes of pelvic painCauses of Pelvic Pain

There are a variety of causes as outlined below:

  • Reproductive System Issues: In women this can be caused by conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ectopic pregnancy. (1,3)
  • Urinary System Issues: This includes bladder infections, interstitial cystitis, and kidney stones. (1)
  • Digestive System Issues: Gastrointestinal issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. (1,2)
  • Musculoskeletal Issues: Muscle strains, sprains, and ligament injuries. (3)
  • Nerve Issues: Sciatica and neuropathy. (2,3,4)
Picture showing area of the anatomy where pelvic pain is felt

Symptoms of Pelvic Pain

Symptoms to watch out can vary depending on the cause and severity of the pain:

  1. Dull or sharp pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis, or genital area;
  2. Pain that comes and goes, or is constant;
  3. Pain during intercourse;
  4. Pain during urination or bowel movements;
  5. Bloating;
  6. Nausea and vomiting;
  7. Fatigue;
  8. Anxiety and depression. (1,2,3,4)


How does Physiotherapy help with Pelvic Pain Disorders?

This type of condition can be challenging to diagnose and treat. However, physiotherapy can be an effective treatment option for many people. Physiotherapists use a range of techniques to assess and treat including:

  • Manual Therapy: This involves hands-on techniques, such as massage and joint mobilisation, to help reduce pain and improve joint mobility. (3)
  • Exercise Therapy: Physiotherapists can develop an individualised exercise programme to help improve pelvic muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance. These exercises can include pelvic floor exercises, core strengthening exercises, and stretches. (1,2,3,4)
  • Education: Physiotherapists can provide education about disorders, including their causes, symptoms, and management strategies. They can also provide guidance on lifestyle modifications and self-management techniques. (1,2,3,4)
  • Biofeedback: This technique involves using sensors to monitor muscle activity and providing visual or auditory feedback to help people learn how to control their pelvic muscles. (2)
  • Acupuncture: Physiotherapists can also use acupuncture to help reduce pain and improve muscle function. (3)


What pelvic conditions can Physiotherapy help with?

Physiotherapy can be helpful for a range of disorders, including:

  1. Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: This condition involves dysfunction of the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that support the pelvic organs. Symptoms can include pain, incontinence and difficulty with sexual function. (3)
  2. Endometriosis: A condition in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it, causing pain and discomfort in the pelvic area. (2,4)
  3. Interstitial Cystitis: A chronic condition that causes pain and discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region. (1)
  4. Vulvodynia: Another chronic pain condition that affects the vulva, the external female genital area. (4)
  5. Prostatitis: This causes inflammation of the prostate gland in men, causing pain and discomfort in the pelvic region. (2,4)

Pelvic pain disorders can have a significant impact on quality of life. However, physiotherapy has proved to be an effective treatment option for many people with the conditions explained in this article. Physiotherapists can use a range of techniques noted earlier to help reduce pain and improve function.

If you are experiencing pelvic pain, consider talking to a physiotherapist to see if physiotherapy can help you manage your symptoms. All of Lamberti’s physiotherapists are equipped to treat pelvic pain. Lauren Angus at the Paulshof and Sandton branches has a special interest in Women’s health and can do internal exams if required.




1. Bishop FL, Rea A, Leach V, et al. Physical interventions for the treatment of painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(10):CD010591. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010591.pub2
2. Albers-Heitner P, Berghmans B, Nieman F, et al. Physiotherapy for female patients with chronic pelvic pain: a randomized controlled trial. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2013;166(1):147-153. doi:10.1016/j.ejogrb.2012.09.029
3. FitzGerald MP, Anderson RU, Potts J, et al. Randomized multicenter feasibility trial of myofascial physical therapy for the treatment of urological chronic pelvic pain syndromes. J Urol. 2013;189(1 Suppl):S75-S85. doi:10.1016/j.juro.2012.11.016
4. Stein A, Redaelli M, Di Dedda MC, et al. Physical therapy for the treatment of chronic pelvic pain in women: a systematic review. Int Urogynecol J. 2018;29(11):1595-1608. doi:10.1007/s00192-018-3658-x