Published on March 04, 2020

You Don’t Have to Live with Pelvic Pain - One Patient's Story

(This story originally ran in the Kennebec Journal /Morning Sentinel's Winter 2020 Women's Quarterly insert. You can find the full edition by clicking here. This story is on page 10.)

MaineGeneral Rehabilitation offers help to those with Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Living with pelvic pain was something Ellen Hilinski of Norridgewock thought she would just have to endure. Over 10 months and numerous tests, she didn’t feel closer to an answer about the cause of her excruciating pain and how to fix it.

With a busy family and young grandchildren, Hilinski had lots of plans. But pain got in the way. In the past she had surgery for a prolapsed and fibrous uterus, but this deep, chronic pelvic pain was different.

“I was so sore,” Hilinski said. “Sitting down was difficult. I had a deep ache. The pain exhausted me.”

Hilinski was already seeing a physical therapist at MaineGeneral for a separate health issue. That therapist told her about Denyse Dechaine, a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor rehabilitation at MaineGeneral Rehabilitation Services at FirstPark in Oakland.

Hilinski found help from Denyse in a number of ways.

“She explained that my pelvic muscles are chronically tense, leading to pain. Right away she did soft-tissue work to my hips and pelvic floor, and the difference has been remarkable in pain relief. Now I’m doing hip and pelvic floor exercises on my own which help relieve my symptoms.”

“I wish I had been able to have pelvic floor rehabilitation when I was younger. I could have benefited from pelvic floor exercises earlier.”

Hilinski’s pain has subsided greatly.

“Denyse is fantastic,” Hilinski said. “The techniques used in physical therapy have been amazing.”

Hilinski is eager to share her experience with younger family members so they know to address pelvic pain right away. She said that she wants all women to know that having pelvic pain and urinary incontinence may be common, but they are not normal.

“Women shouldn’t accept living in pain. It’s so exhausting. The pain limits what you enjoy in life. I encourage all women to really know their bodies and get educated about their health. Pelvic pain and urinary incontinence aren’t something you have to live with.”

“Now I talk to my nieces to make sure they know about these issues, that there are answers and even prevention they should consider,” she said. “I also want them to know that if they have pain, they need to get help right away because surgeries are no picnic and they may be able to avoid surgery by getting incontinence or pain addressed upfront.”

Now Hilinski is often on the run and able to enjoy family time.

“A year ago I was so worn down by the pain. It was frustrating. Now I am getting back on track. I’ve finally found some relief and can do things I enjoy. It’s amazing.”


What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

  • Pelvic floor dysfunction can impact both women and men.
  • The bladder, rectum, cervix and prostate are supported in the pelvis by the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles need to function properly for normal urination and bowel movements.
  • Sometimes these muscles can become irritated and contract abnormally. The general term given to this problem is pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD).

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction is Common

  • 1 out of 7 American women between ages 18 and 50 experience chronic pelvic pain
  • 1 out of 3 women over the age of 45 have stress urinary incontinence
  • An estimated 17 million adults in the US have incontinence daily

Questions to Help You Determine if You Have Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

  • Are you not able to wear jeans due to pain between your legs?
  • Does it hurt to sit down?
  • Do you have sharp rectal pain lasting 20-30 seconds?
  • Do you have pain or problems with sexual intercourse or bowel movements?
  • Do you take a long time when you go to the bathroom?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, treatment by a physical therapist may help you. Contact your doctor for an evaluation and referral.

Advice from MaineGeneral Rehabilitation Services

Advice from Denyse Dechaine, one of five outpatient physical therapists at MaineGeneral Rehabilitation Services who specialize in pelvic health:

“It’s important for women to know they are not alone. Some symptoms of urinary incontinence and pelvic pain are treatable, and the earlier the better.

“We start by performing personalized evaluations of the back, pelvis and hips. We look at the body as a whole, checking strength, motion and flexibility. That information helps us work with each patient as an individual to develop a plan that includes some exercises to complete at home.”For more information, call MaineGeneral Rehabilitation Services:

  • Augusta: (207) 621-7500
  • Oakland: (207) 873-8140
  • Winthrop: (207) 377-1580

Visit our Physical Therapy page to learn more.