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New treatment helps fight pelvic pain

November 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Approximately 15 percent of women in the U.S. live with chronic pelvic pain. For some, it's so bad they can't function normally and as many as 70 percent of sufferers never get a definite diagnosis. Shannon Henderson considered herself a happy mom until she had surgery to remove an ovary. It left her with chronic pain so severe, she considered the unthinkable.

"It was like a stabbing, burning pain," said Henderson. "At some point, I just knew that if I didn't have a family, I didn't want to live."

Prescription drugs didn't help, and some doctors told her she was crazy.

"Chronic pain of any kind will cause symptoms like depression, suicidal thoughts, but it's never ever all in their head," said gynecologic surgeon Dr. Michael Hibner. "There's always a reason for pain."

Dr. Hibner is pioneering new treatments for pelvic pain. In surgery, he cuts away scarring or ligaments that can press on nerves, causing pain. Then he puts a protective sheath around the nerve to keep the scar tissue and pain from coming back.

"Approximately 70 percent of patients do better after surgery," said Dr. Hibner.

Dr. Hibner also uses lidocaine or Botox injections to ease muscle spasms and nerve pain, particularly for women who have chronic pain after having a baby or surgery.

"A lot of women with chronic pain develop muscle spasms in the pelvic floor," said Dr. Hibner. "Botox is very good at relaxing those muscles."

"I want to live. I don't dread getting out of bed in the morning," said Henderson. "I know that I can get through the day."

Shannon had lidocaine injections and within a few days, the pain started to subside.

"Every day, I'm grateful to be alive now," said Henderson.

She's a mom free from the reign of chronic pain.


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