Treating Chronic Pelvic Myofacial Pain With Light

Jan 10, 2024 at 06:21 pm by kbarrettalley

Alex Childs MD with a SoLa Pelvic Therapy Laser.
Alex Childs MD with a SoLa Pelvic Therapy Laser.

Laura Freeman


Decades after laser instruments revolutionized surgery, the healing power in a simple beam of light can still evoke a sense of wonder.

“Seeing how the near infrared light of a SoLa Pelvic Therapy Laser triggers biochemical changes within cells is amazing. The effects are particularly pronounced in mitochondrial respiration and cytochrome C oxidase,” Alex J. Childs, MD said. Childs, who is a pelvic pain specialist at Ob-Gyn South, became the first physician in the state to use the system in patient care last summer. He has been very impressed with the results.

“I’ve actually been surprised that the improvement in symptoms is better that I was expecting,” Childs said. “About 75 percent of our patients are responding to this treatment, with many reporting a noticeable improvement after only three or four sessions.”

With a Fellowship in Chronic Pelvic Pain, OB-GYN Childs knows first-hand how difficult it can be to diagnose and treat this condition in women. And this is a growing problem, as chronic pelvic pain is now affecting up to 24 percent of the women in the world. Unfortunately, many of these patients live with this pain because they don’t realize that anything can be done to relieve it, and there were limitations with most of the prior therapies. For instance, physicians have been reluctant to prescribe many pain relievers due to the risk of dependency. And although Botox can be injected into vaginal trigger points, a number of women are reluctant to choose this option.

Pelvic pain can come from a number of different causes, but 85 percent of patients living with chronic pelvic pain have a component of hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction. Tight pelvic muscles can be a significant factor contributing to their pain.

“Patients referred for help with pelvic muscle dysfunction can present with a number of symptoms in different combinations,” Childs said. “They may have painful urination or bowel movements, pain with excessive sitting or standing, and pain that makes intercourse difficult or impossible, which adds emotional pain and stress to intimate relationships.

“SoLa therapy has been very well received by our patients. They were excited to learn that they now have an option that doesn’t involve needles for trigger point injections or other uncomfortable treatments. Patients say they only feel a slight warming. There may be minor irritation for a day or two, but nothing significant.

“Treatments only take a few minutes. We usually schedule three appointments a week for a total of nine sessions over three to six weeks. The light energy is delivered through a small vaginal probe with a disposable tip. Before proceeding, we always check to make sure there are no active infections, uti’s or vaginal bleeding, and address those issues, if needed.”

Contraindications for using the laser treatment include pregnancy, cancer in the urogenital area and the use of medications that are heat or light sensitive.

The SoLa Pelvic Therapy System is a nonablative class IV near-infrared laser that transmits at both 810nm and 980nm wavelengths. No cutting is involved. It is the only photobiomodulation device now available for vaginal use and cleared for treatment of chronic pelvic pain and muscle spasms in the pelvic floor.

Photobiomodulation has been used for over 20 years to treat muscle conditions in other areas of the body. It results in increased production of ATP and a release of nitric acid. In addition to relaxing both smooth and skeletal muscles, it can reduce muscle pain, decrease inflammation and improve circulation and oxygenation.

“We’re also hearing good things about how long the improvement in symptoms lasts from clinics in other states that have been using the system longer,” Childs said. “Their patients are reporting relief anywhere from 12 to 18 months. Patients can follow up with additional treatments as needed.

“As of now, insurance doesn’t usually cover this treatment. Our clinic is offering a series of nine treatments for around $2,000.

“ In addition to helping with myofacial pain, we’re seeing good research data and anecdotal reports of improvements in other types of chronic pelvic pain. We’re hoping this will lead to an expansion in FDA approved uses, which in turn could lead to broader insurance coverage. It will make a huge improvement in women’s lives if they don’t have to live with chronic pain.”

Sections: Clinical

May 2024

May 21, 2024 at 01:33 pm by kbarrettalley

Your May 2024 Issue of Birmingham Medical News is Here!