Many orthopedic and neurological problems are commonly known to be treated by physical therapists, such as low back pain, strokes and post-operative rehabilitation. However, one fairly common problem that affects one in four women is not openly discussed – pelvic dysfunction and incontinence.

Chronic pelvic pain, which includes pelvic dysfunction and incontinence, is an umbrella term that may include many different diagnoses and is defined as cyclical or non-cyclical pain lasting for more than three to six months that causes functional deficit or requires medical or surgical treatment.

Pain described by those with CPP may be broad, extending from the umbilicus to the thigh, anterior and/or posterior, including the perineum and associated areas. Vulvar pain and vulvodynia are considered separate from CPP due to the focal nature of symptoms specific to the vulva. However, due to comorbidities of vulvar pain and CPP with other pain syndromes and musculoskeletal contributions, consideration of both must be made when screening patients with pelvic pain.

Physical therapists employ several techniques, such as manual therapy, biofeedback and therapeutic exercise, to address this problem that can negatively impact a patient’s quality of life.

Help your patients find relief. Check out our course related to pelvic dysfunction. The module, called Chronic Pelvic Pain: A Clinical Guide to Screening, Examination and Referral for the Orthopedic Therapist, can be found at or within our catalog of physical therapy courses.