Some Important Facts about Pelvic Cramps
Pelvic cramps describe the sensation of pain felt between the hips. This can be used to describe a sharp sensation of pain, a persistent or pulsating pain that is cyclical or a continuous sensation of having a spasm and is most often associated with menstrual pain in women.
The pelvic region houses the reproductive organs such as the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and vagina, and also the bladder, rectum and appendix. The pain can emanate from any of these organs. Sometimes, pelvic cramps can be caused by organs not in the immediate area such as the kidneys, intestine, abdominal wall, ureters or even the lower part of the aorta. Mental states such as stress and depression may also serve to aggravate an existing discomfort in the area. Theoretically, pelvic cramps can stem from menstrual cramps, muscle spasms, muscle cramps, indigestion, uncomfortable clothes or bad posture in doing some physical labor. The diagnosis of the cramp will depend on the gender and age of the patient and on their physical history.
Although it could refer to other conditions, in general the term is used in relation to women and their gynecological symptoms. So, it is worth understanding the some of causes of pelvic pain in women:
Menstrual cramping – This refers to the monthly cramp that a majority of women experience during their menstrual cycle.
Pelvic adhesions – When the fibrous bands which is normally separate sometimes start holding parts together.
Endometriosis – This is a case of an endometrial tissue, usually found lining the uterus, found growing outside the uterus.
Peritonitis – An infection in the lining of the abdomen can lead to an inflammation in the region.
Urinary tract infection – Another common cause of cramping is an infection in the urinary tract.
Twisted ovary – As the term suggests, doctors check for any change in the position of the ovary as this can be a cause of pelvic cramps.
Mittelschmerz – This specifically refers to pain that peaks in the middle of the menstrual cycle and is triggered by ovulation.
Ectopic pregnancy – Pelvic cramps in a pregnant woman can be a sign of ectopic pregnancy where the fetus develops outside of the uterus.
Miscarriage – Pregnant women may also experience cramps if they have a miscarriage.
Colon cancer or ovarian cancer – Persistent pelvic cramps over a period of time can be indication of a malignant tumor.
This list is not a comprehensive list of causes for pelvic cramps and you should visit a doctor to get a conclusive diagnosis for your symptom as it can signal anything from a muscle spasm from over-exertion to a complication in the digestive system.
Doctors are most likely to start with a symptom history and a physical exam when a patient presents with pelvic cramps. A specific pelvic exam can help the doctor locate the specific area of the cramp. They are likely to ask questions to help determine the frequency of the pain. Women are likely to be asked about their last menstrual cycle, the heaviness of bleeding and the pattern in which the cramp presents itself.
Medical professionals will also need some tests to help arrive at their diagnoses. A woman with the age-range of pregnancy will definitely be given a pregnancy test very early on. A urine culture or urinalysis will help check for kidney or bladder problems. Blood tests are used to get a blood count and to check for infections. X-rays, ultrasound, CT scans and MRI scans also help to determine the affected organ and to pinpoint the exact organ that needs to be treated.
The cause of the cramp will determine the course of the treatment. If there is an infection, it is likely that antibiotics will be used. Pain medication may be used for regular pelvic cramps along with recommendations for relation exercises. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen may be used for reducing inflammation. A kidney stone or a twisted ovary may need surgery.
Modern medicine provides health care professionals the tools for accurately reading a pelvic cramp and for addressing the exact problem.