Understanding the Healing of Prostatitis, CPPS and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, Levator any Syndrome, and Related Pelvic Pain Conditions, Continued

In my long experience with pelvic pain, before it resolved for me, I had no idea how to stop my pain, it was there, I woke up with it every day, it didn’t go away, some things made it worse sometimes some things made it better or it just got a little better, but it never went away. For years I couldn’t see a way to resolve it. When it finally did resolve, the path of its resolution became clear to me.
We all understand that an intensive care unit in a hospital is a place in which patients who are dangerously ill are kept under constant observation to support their bodies to become well enough to remain alive and healthy without the need for such intensive support. Intensive care is needed to help someone recover their health. The true purpose of an intensive care unit is to support the body’s ability to become well. Let me say that again – the true purpose of an intensive care unit is to support the body’s innate natural ability to become well because the circumstances of someone’s life are jeopardizing and challenging the capacity of the body’s ability to do this.
An intensive care unit is aimed at supporting the body’s ability to heal so that it does not need extraordinary support to remain alive and healthy. Ultimately Intensive care leading to the recovery of someone’s health supports the natural, indigenous ability in the human body to be healthy and alive when it is compromised. We all intuitively understand that we don’t bring germs into an intensive care unit, we don’t play loud music, or we don’t do anything to stress the person who is there. We all understand that undue physical or psychological stress will impair the person’s ability to recover, will impair the body’s ability to restore health. We all understand that undue physical or psychological stress in an intensive care unit is forbidden for good reason. It’s touchy – the body’s ability to recover under certain circumstances, and in order for the body to heal, efforts that are intense and pointed are necessary to kickstart the healing mechanism of the body to be able to support the patients recovery to life and health.

None of us would be surprised in any way if there were a sign that said “quiet” outside an intensive care unit or even to require visitors to put gowns, masks, and gloves on, to not bring in any potential threat to the healing immune compromised person.

In another example, when an injured solder comes back from a war none of us are surprised at the long period of time it takes for the injured soldier to recover. None of us would be surprised that the soldier would be in the sanctuary of a hospital, that the soldier would not be expected to work or do normal duties of life that normally would not stress a healthy person, but would stress someone who is recovering from serious injury or compromise of their body.

When we get the flu most of us know that sleep, rest, liquids are essential to our recovery. We don’t go to work, often staying in the protected environment of bed and rest. What we are doing when we have a cold and take these measures in supporting our body is supporting our own natural healing mechanisms. It’s not the cold medicines that we buy at the pharmacy or the cold medicines that the doctor might give us that do the trick. It’s our body’s amazing ability to recover and heal. And that’s what we do when we protect ourselves in the way that we do when we have a bad flu for instance.

In the intensive care unit the case of an injured soldier who comes home from war or in the case of our battle with the bad flu, we may not recognize it explicitly but we honor and support and cooperate with the healing mechanism of the body to cure itself. In the age of modern medicine, we often forget this. We attribute all kinds of power to the drugs and healing devices that have been invented in modern times, but we forget that those are all just the servants of the healing mechanism of the body. This is what the important thing I’m saying here. Whatever we do in the intensive care unit or the hospital for an injured soldier, or for our own struggle with a bad flu, without the body being able to heal itself, none of our efforts would matter. We serve of the body’s ability to heal in the intensive care unit, the soldier’s hospital stay, or our attempts to heal ourselves of a bad flu.

Now pelvic pain doesn’t seem like a problem that requires healing in the same way as the examples that I’ve just discussed. I believe this is because pelvic pain is invisible, doctors can’t see it, friends can’t see it, doctors can’t find any abnormality either in the normal manual examination of a patient or in all the standard medical tests or standard visualizing tests used in contemporary medicine.
What is typically overlooked in understanding chronic pelvic pain is why the pelvic tissue is sore in the first place. What caused it? Why does it remain sore? It is accepted that chronic pelvic pain tissue is sore, it keeps being sore, and there isn’t much understanding about it.

If you pull a muscle or overdo exercise and your arm or hand or leg or back gets sore, you might baby it, not stress it, in other words, you would cooperate with the mechanism of the body that heals a sore arm, or neck, or back by mobilizing it, not stressing it, not using it so vigorously. You might not think that you are cooperating with the body’s capacity to heal sore, painful tissue, but in fact you are. A splint or brace or even a cast for a broken bone are all efforts to help the body’s natural healing mechanisms heal the problem. Most people don’t explicitly give a lot of credit to the body’s ability to heal but everyone goes to great lengths to support this ability of the body when they are injured or hurt even though they may not explicitly say “I am honoring the body’s ability to heal”.

It is peculiar that conventional thinking of chronic pelvic pain doesn’t recognize the need to support the body’s ability to heal itself. In the Wise Anderson Protocol, we train our patients to be servants of the body’s ability to heal the sore and irritated pelvic tissue. After all, when the sore and irritated pelvic tissue stops being sore and irritated, pelvic pain stops existing. Pelvic pain is essentially sore irritated pelvic tissue that hurts and that interferes with the normal functioning of urination and defecation and sexual activity and sitting and management of stress that otherwise it wouldn’t be affected by. What needs healing is the sore tissue that has occurred typically because chronic tension in the muscles of this tissue has made it sore and this process is invisible, it can’t be seen.
In our Protocol we support the healing of the body in pelvic pain by essentially training our patients in three methods: physical intervention; behavioral and mental intervention, which we call “extended paradoxical relaxation”. And, implicitly, we want to offer a new the viewpoint of what pelvic pain is, what needs to be done for it so that we help head off the normal catastrophizing and fear that people have about this very distressing disorder.
The problem with pelvic pain healing is that for a good part of a person’s day there are things that interfere with the healing up of this tissue, namely urination with some people, defecation with some people, sitting with many people, anxiety, which is a huge exacerbator of this problem. And sexual activity often exacerbates the condition. When somebody is anxious the tissue does not relax. The tissue remains tight and irritated. And the catastrophizing that occurs with many people like “they’re never going to get better, that no one understands, that the doctors can’t help, and woe is me, what am I going to do? What’s the matter with me”?
With some peoples continued activity like bodybuilding, bicycle riding, and other things that stress the pelvic floor are all things that normally don’t have any negative affect on the pelvis and in a pelvis that is not disordered like it is in pelvic floor dysfunction. But it can be a problem when you have pelvic floor tenderness and pain. So, the healing that is required for the sore pelvic floor is typically interrupted all day in the life of the person suffering from chronic pelvic pain. Imagine somebody in the ICU who is carefully monitored and supported in healing at 9:00 in the morning and at 9:00 in the morning has to deal with somebody coming in and saying “ok you have to go to work, get in a car, deal with all the stresses of life, and when you come back at 6:00 in the evening we can again support your healing in the ICU”. This would be a joke. The same would be true in our attempts to support the healing with a bad flu or a soldier recuperating from wounds, we wouldn’t think of doing this.
But in my view, this is what the pelvic pain patient is subject to. So, the two to four hours of self-treatment that we ask our patients to do, a huge requirement, which involves loosening the tightened tissue that needs to be loosened in order for it to heal and then reducing the inner turmoil triggered by an aroused nervous system continually stoked by catastrophizing, and the inherent arousal of the nervous system because of chronic pain, is a minimum time required for healing and this is why the healing takes so long. Because when you’re doing well, you’re moving ahead three steps and you’re moving back two steps in dealing with all of the stresses that continue to irritate the tissue during a normal day.

If you could put someone in an quiet environment protected from the stresses of normal life, supported them emotionally and physically, and this is a big if, I believe pelvic pain would heal up.
Because you can’t see what needs healing in the pelvic floor pain patient and because the pelvic pain patient can work and function, albeit, with a silent, very large cost to the patient, chronic pelvic pain remains chronic. In my view, supporting the healing of the body must be the ultimate focus of someone struggling with pelvic pain. And this is not a small matter. How do you calm a nervous system down and a tightened, painful pelvic floor in a person who has no experience in doing this.

Doing physical therapy to loosen the pelvic floor takes training and the right tool. Loosening the hypertonic pelvic floor has to be taught. You have to learn how to find the tissue, you have to insert a device inside the pelvic floor. It’s a challenge at first. you have to learn how to do it, but in our protocol, it is routinely done. You’re basically going into a sore area and releasing it. And you can’t do it too hard. And you can’t do it too softly. And practicing relaxation and getting very quiet is a life changing practice that requires training and support. It’s a commitment to peace. Many people are not ready to make that commitment. And then the nervous system has got to get used to being quiet, the nervous system used to be vigilant, will often rebel against being quiet, not anxious or fearful.

These are the real obstacles – the absence of an understanding and the creation of an environment – to heal the pain associated with diagnoses like prostatitis, CPPS, levator ani syndrome, and other chronic pelvic pain diagnoses. The healing of the sore and irritated pelvic floor — which is the common thread passing through all of these diagnoses —- requires making the body a regular healing environment. The healing of the painful pelvic floor involves loosening the pelvic floor tissue, releasing related trigger points inside and outside the body related to the pain and creating a healing chamber in which you regularly rest, a healing chamber that is quiet emotionally that peaceful, not guarded. It’s a major event in life to do this. This is why pelvic pain is a major event in life that in the most optimistic viewpoint provides us with the opportunity to be able to find peace inside to allow what is sore and irritate to heal.

You are the environment in which your pelvic pain heals or does not heal

In the original version of our book A Headache in the Pelvis, we described pelvic floor pain as a condition in which the tissue of the pelvic floor is caught in an inhospitable environment of chronic contraction, pain, and tension. We stated simply that our therapeutic approach – called the Stanford Protocol by some, and we call the Wise-Anderson Protocol – aims to turn this unhealthy environment into a hospitable one to permit the healing of sore, tightened tissue.

Many years after we originally wrote that first edition, and after treating several thousand additional patients, many new observations and insights have emerged, and we’ve found different ways to describe the onset and perpetuation of this invisible condition.

If you have pelvic pain, and your pelvic floor muscles are locked in a self-feeding cycle of tension, anxiety, pain, sore tissue, and protective guarding, then it’s an important but often-overlooked observation that you are the environment in which this condition exists. You are the environment in which this sore, painful tissue can or cannot heal. As a result, you needn’t be a passive participant to resolving your condition.

I experienced pelvic pain for over 20 years. Every day, I was in pain, distracted, and living with an underlying feeling of dread that I would never recover my life. Inwardly, I felt like a mess. Doctors had nothing to offer me. They told me that my conditions was related to my prostate gland – something I later discovered was untrue – but they also seemed uninterested in my pain, and more than happy to see me leave their office. Knowing what I do know now, I think my sense about the doctors was correct: they weren’t interested in my situation, they didn’t understand it, and they could do nothing to help. In fact, they offered the faulty diagnosis that somehow this was a prostate-related problem for which there was no solution. When you’re a doctor and someone comes to see you with a condition you don’t understand and can’t help, you naturally withdraw. I still clearly remember the first time I went to see a doctor about my pelvic pain. He talked to me, examined me, and very quickly said to his nurse, “Next patient.”

I went to these doctors as an anxious and frustrated patient. I had the idea that my condition was mysterious and arbitrary – that it had nothing to do with the state I was in. I didn’t understand that my inner state had everything to do with my chronic symptoms. But, no doctor I saw understood this either.

What does it mean that my inner state led to my chronic condition? Consider a more straightforward example: if you tightened your hand into a fist for a year, the tissue of your hand would be sore, irritated, and painful. That’s just common sense. Further, if you kept maintaining a fist, this sore tissue would remain irritated and painful – that pain isn’t going to heal. This continually tightened fist is the environment that the sore, painful hand and fingers exist in.

The same situation exists with pelvic floor pain: the patient’s tightened, anxious, nervous state is the environment that interferes with the healing of the tissue. Furthermore, normal activities of life exacerbate the pain and irritation of sore pelvic tissue. Sitting, walking, lifting, and balancing are all potentially irritating to the already sore pelvic floor. Additionally, a subset of people with pelvic pain have post bowel movement pain, post urination pain, post orgasm pain, and even sitting pain – activities that are part of regular life and normally cause no pain or difficulty. With pelvic floor pain and dysfunction, these activities contribute to the inhospitable environment that interferes with the pelvic floor.

And, of course, there is also anxiety, sleep disturbance, and the deep psychological distress that most people with pelvic pain endure. Anxiety and nervous arousal are a huge exacerbator of pelvic floor pain. Gevirtz and Hubbard demonstrated in a watershed study that relaxation quiets electrical activity in trigger points, while anxiety hugely heightens electrical activity.

All of this is what I mean when I say that you are the environment in which your pelvic floor tissue can heal or remain irritated. Our approach asks a very big sacrifice – that patients devote at least two hours every day to applying competent, self-administered physical release and practicing relaxation.

When I had pelvic pain, I went to the doctor and hoped that the doctor would just fix it. I wanted to simply say, “Here it is doc. It’s your problem, now.” A doctor who understood pelvic floor pain would have replied, “You will have to create an environment inside yourself, every day, to allow the sore and painful tissue to heal.”

It’s true that pelvic floor pain can go away on its own without treatment. There are people who practice no self-treatment and just get better. It’s also true that some patients get better in a variety of ways – from doing physical therapy to changing jobs and other apparent interventions. In my experience, however, those people are a small minority of pelvic pain patients. For the majority of patients, no one else can ultimately fix the problem. It’s like brushing your teeth – yes, someone else can show you how to brush and floss, but ultimately there is no one who can do this for you in your life except you.

We are the environment in which our pelvic pain exists, and in my view this environment in which we exist day-to-day is the central factor that facilitates the healing of pelvic pain. Skillfully loosening the relevant tissue inside and outside physically and providing regular and significant daily time in which the body becomes quiet and relaxed is necessary for most cases of pelvic pain to significantly improve and resolve.

Excerpt From A Headache in the Pelvis

The following is an excerpt from “A Headache in the Pelvis

We have identified a group of chronic pelvic pain syndromes that we believe is caused by the overuse of the human instinct to protect the genitals, rectum, and contents of the pelvis from injury or pain by contracting the pelvic muscles. This tendency becomes exaggerated in predisposed individuals and over time results in chronic pelvic pain and dysfunction. The state of chronic constriction creates pain-referring trigger points, reduced blood flow, and an inhospitable environment for the nerves, blood vessels, and structures throughout the pelvic basin. This results in a cycle of tension, anxiety, and pain, which has previously been unrecognized and untreated.

Understanding this tension, anxiety, and pain cycle has allowed us to create an effective treatment. Our program breaks the cycle by rehabilitating the shortened pelvic muscles and connective tissue supporting the pelvic organs while simultaneously using a specific methodology to modify the tendency to tighten the muscles of the pelvic floor under stress.

The reason that chronic pain and dysfunction resist a simple mechanical fix is that they tend to come out of a background of a life-long habit of focusing tension in the pelvic muscles. It is necessary to rehabilitate the pelvic muscles in conjunction with changing the predisposition to pelvic tensing under conditions of stress.

An Allegory

It came to pass that the world went through a period of strife, and the citizens of the pelvic floor were required to work more and more. Night shifts became common place. In some parts of the land, citizens were required to work twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, with no rest.

Painful protests from the pelvic floor were made with demands for a return to the balance between rest and work. The world, however, did not seem to understand what the pelvic floor was trying to say.

The world became desperate and decided to hire a new consultant who saw the problem differently. The new consultant said, “If you want to solve this problem, you must go to the land of the pelvic floor and listen to its complaints.” The world replied: “We don’t know how to talk to or understand the pelvic floor. We have never had a conversation with it.” The consultant answered: “I know the language of the pelvic floor and will teach you how to understand what it is trying to tell you.”

After a while, the world said to the consultant: “Your method seems to be working much of the time but why is everything not completely back to normal?” The consultant replied: “Both you and the land of the pelvic floor are used to the unhappy state of affairs that has existed for many years. If you are not reminded, you will continue to force the citizens of the pelvic floor to work without rest.”

Therefore, a curriculum was set up for the pelvic floor as well. The people of the pelvic floor went to special clinics where they learned to stretch the contracted posture that they developed due to their constant work. This stretching and their lessons in learning not to fall back into the old habits enabled them to relearn how to relax and rest.

Pelvic pain and dysfunction result from overused and chronically tensed pelvic musculature.

The pelvic floor is your pelvis and the contents of your pelvis, including your genitals, rectum, and the muscles that hold up the contents of your abdomen. It also includes the structures that are involved in urination, defecation, sexual activity, and physical movement. These functions and their myriad of biochemical, nervous, and mechanical processes go on often without requiring your awareness, will, conscious effort, or attention.

The pelvic floor muscles are not meant to be chronically contracted. When muscles are chronically tensed, they tend to shorten and eventually accommodate so that the posture of a shortened state of the muscles feels normal. This chronic shortening impedes the ability of the tissues to have proper oxygenation, nutrition, management of wastes and rejuvenation of tissue.

The tendency to focus tension in the pelvic muscles is not an accident. Some have suggested that a person’s inclination to focus tension in the pelvic muscles begins with toilet training. The child is able to stop his parent’s reaction to soiling by tightening his pelvic muscles. Over time, tightening the pelvis becomes a conditioned reaction to any situation in which anxiety arises. Let us be clear that this idea of focusing tension in the pelvic muscles as a result of early toilet training is simply an idea and we do not propose that it should be taken as fact. It is however, a compelling explanation of how pelvic tension may well begin early in life.

In our allegory, we see that the constant demand made upon the pelvic floor leads to a disruption in its ability to function. It is our view that, over time, a constant demand on the pelvic floor to tense results in an environment that is inhospitable to the nerves, blood vessels, and structures within it. The pelvic floor is not made of steel and in certain individuals is quite disturbed by chronic tension.

The painful pelvis is like a continually contracted fist.

Now imagine you maintain this clenched fist for a day. Now imagine you maintain this fist for a week. Now imagine a month of tightening your fist constantly twenty-four hours a day. Now imagine doing it for a year. Now imagine doing it for several years. This is one way to understand the state of the pelvic floor in people with pelvic pain.

Imagine continually tensing your pelvis.

People who have never had pelvic pain are incredulous at being asked to contract their pelvic muscles for 30 minutes. The prospect of continual tightening of the pelvic muscles for a week, month, or year would be unthinkable and yet the research shows increased tone in the pelvic floor for people with pelvic pain. Dealing with such a condition is the focus of our protocol.

In our allegory, we make the point that ‘the world’ has lost communication with the pelvis. Most of our patients tend to be out of touch with what is going on in their pelvis. We offer a method to open communication with the pelvis to help bring about a healing of the sore.