“Why Pelvic Pain Hurts: Neuroscience Education for Patients with Pelvic Pain.” – Book Review

Reviewed by Natalia Monka, PT, MScPT

If you would like a copy of this book, please contact Ana Whelan at durhampelvichealth@gmail.com

Authors Adriaan Low, Sandra Hilton and Carolyn Vandyken
Published by Spine and Pain Institute, USA
ISBN #978-0-9857186-8-8, 67 pages, CAN $19.95+tax

Book Review
“Why Pelvic Pain Hurts” is the first neuroscience- based pain
education book dedicated to Pelvic Pain. Written at a Grade 6
literacy level, the book uses illustrations and metaphors to take
the reader on a journey towards understanding the complexity of
persistent pain. Breaking up brief paragraphs with checklists, key
points and colourful highlighted “take home” messages, this book
can easily be read in its entirety or by section depending on the
readers’ needs. The book is divided into 5 sections and includes a
resource list of scientific evidence for more in depth exploration
on the topic of pelvic pain.
Section 1, titled “Understanding Your Body’s Alarm System”
introduces the reader to the key concepts of pain. Using every
day examples such as spraining an ankle or stepping on a nail, the
authors seek to explain pain without diving into too many scientific
details that may overwhelm readers. This chapter alone is an
excellent resource that can be used to educate patients on pain as
a normal human experience, regardless of their injury.
Section 2 focuses on understanding how the nervous system
can become hypersensitive, and once again the book provides
clever metaphors to allow the reader to comprehend the physiological
reasons behind their pain. A quick checklist on page 9
provides the reader with insight as to whether they have a hypersensitive
nervous system, and has the potential to double as a
screening tool for clinicians wishing to introduce pain
education during their treatment
Chapter 3 dives into understanding
pelvic pain. The authors humbly admit that people with
pelvic pain are at a disadvantage given its taboo nature and lack of
consistent explanation by healthcare providers. Using the analogy
of a measuring cup, the reader is provided with a visual explanation
of how emotions and daily stressors can trigger unexplained
pain “down there.”
“Understanding Your Lion and How It Impacts You” is the title
of Section 4, which provides simple explanations on the physiological
processes that occur when the brain perceives a threatening
stimulus. Maslow’s hierachy of needs is introduced on page 38.
Illustrated with a pyramid scheme, this page is another gem that
could be utilized in a clinical setting.
In the last section, the authors outline twelve treatment options
that the reader can pursue in order to address their pelvic pain.
With education in the forefront, the reader is also provided with
brief explanations of various other treatment techniques such as
manual therapy, exercise, graded motor imagery, posture, pacing
and stress management, to name a few.
With the aim to assist patients in understanding pelvic pain,
I believe that the authors have achieved their goal to provide a
resource that is compact, easy to read and explained in language
that is not overwhelming to the non-scientific mind. This small
but mighty resource will surely provide an “a-ha!” moment for
therapists struggling to explain pain to patients, as well as lend
an empathetic source of education for individuals dealing with
persistent pelvic pain. An overall very useful compliment to pain
education in a clinical setting!

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