Physical therapy eases pelvic pain for Brighton man

Pelvic pain doesn't discriminate. It isn't just a problem that affects women. Ask Dennis Wagener, 62, of Brighton. Three years ago, he decided to increase his activity level, so he purchased a bicycle because bicycling is easy on the joints. Shortly after he began riding, he experienced tremendous pain in his groin and testicles. Was it his bike seat?

The pain concerned him enough to visit his urologist, Jason Gilleran, M.D. In the past, Wagener had been treated by other urologists for prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate gland. When bacterial prostatitis is diagnosed, it is treated with antibiotics.

On this particular visit, Dr. Gilleran told Wagener he was experiencing pelvic floor disorders and wrote him a prescription for physical therapy.

Says Dr. Gilleran, "Unfortunately, men are often reluctant to see therapists for this problem. They're not willing to think outside the box. You've got to buy in to the treatment plan, like Dennis."

Explains Wagener, "I was surprised physical therapy was a treatment option."

Not only was Wagener surprised, but also amazed that after several PT treatments his pain was gone.

He admits, "The therapy is not the most comfortable thing." But Wagener is not complaining. Since his treatments, he rides his bike about 500 miles a year with his wife.

According to researchers, 8 to 10 percent of males experience pelvic pain; and 50 percent of men will experience prostatitis during their lifetimes.

Kristen Maike, supervisor, physical therapy, Beaumont Health System, has treated several men like Wagener. If she had to characterize those who seek help for pelvic pain, she says, "They're usually successful business men - in high power jobs with high stress."

Maike observes, "None of my male patients think they're stressed."

She educates her patients to be aware. She teaches deep abdominal breathing. "Some men clench their teeth when they're stressed, others clench their buttocks."

Maike, who specializes in pelvic floor dysfunction, like many health care professionals, believes pelvic pain in men is often confused with nonbacterial prostatitis. This makes it more difficult for men to get a diagnosis and treatment for their pain.

The National Institutes of Health refers to chronic nonbacterial prostatitis as chronic pelvic pain syndrome or CPPS.

Physical therapy treatments for pelvic pain include trigger point release and connective tissue manipulation, known as "skin rolling." This therapy improves:

  • sexual function
  • urological function
  • pain
  • quality-of-life

Explains Maike, "In men, the outcomes for pelvic pain therapy are very promising. My male patients do very well with PT, most likely because they are focused."

And many men who have pelvic pain also experience erectile dysfunction, or ED.

For Wagener, pelvic floor therapy helped ease his excruciating pain. Maike, his therapist, also recommended a more comfortable bike seat. The seat reduces pressure on the perineum, a pelvic area that when irritated can be painful. Now, he's back on the right path.