We have now helped over 1500 patients from 35 different states and 15 different countries who suffered from Chronic Pelvic Pain and related issues using a non-surgical, multi-disciplinary, multi-modality approach to treatment.
I am writing this brief message about the Echenberg Institute for Pelvic and Sexual Pain in August of 2018. Previously the Institute for Women in Pain was the name we used for the general program that I initiated back in 2001 and was meant for women exclusively. Over the course of the past 9 years or so, we have been seeing more and more men, as well, with persistent and chronic pelvic, genital and sexual pain disorders.
I have tried to stay “ahead of the curve” when dealing with all aspects of women’s health for over 4 decades, and I continue to feel passionate about caring for both women and men with these difficult pain issues in the pelvic region.
Since opening my private practice for pelvic and sexual pain disorders in 2006, I have now seen over 1500 women and a growing number of men from over 35 different states, as far away as Hawaii and Florida, Sweden and Brazil. The fact that so many have come from so far and wide is extremely frustrating for me, because we hear the same theme over and over – and that is – how difficult it has been for them to find health care providers who either know how to diagnose them, take appropriate time to listen to them, or even explain to them some rationale for their complex of symptoms.
It is certainly not as though most of these patients have not tried everything they know to get the help they need. More and more, following inadequate or ineffective care by their local providers (urologists, gynecologists, GI docs, and even pain management centers), people are searching the web and finding a small handful of neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons, radiologists, uro-gynecologists and others who promise great success with surgical procedures, invasive diagnostic and other therapeutic procedures that are both extremely costly, often do not work, and for which patients tell us – they were so desperate, that they have flown across the country, or even out of country, to receive these services.
My frustration extends as well to the fact that every major health organization working with chronic pain strongly suggests an interdisciplinary approach in diagnosing and managing complex chronic pain disorders. That is the very reason that our program has developed as a multi-disciplinary, multi-organ system and multi-modality program since 2001. Also, we try to incorporate as many modalities as possible to deal with the inevitable mind/body connections that science is showing contributes so greatly to the body’s “holding onto” the cumulative traumas that contribute so greatly to chronic persistent pain and suffering. Unfortunately, and to no one’s surprise, insurance plans just don’t keep up in paying for these individualized care plans and ancillary providers that most of our patients require to heal.
How frustrating as well to all of us, when these insurances don’t bat an eyelash if we were to order another CT scan, surgical procedure, or other very expensive test or treatment, but will not consider paying relatively small amounts for evaluation and treatments that are far less costly and are significantly more non-invasive and effective.
Drugs and surgeries have their place in my world as a physician (even though I no longer do surgery myself). However, unless they are integrated with all helpful modalities that are currently, easily available in most localities, they simply are not enough for managing most chronic pain syndromes.
Because of all these realities and the fact that we are now collaborating with professionals and organizations that we trust, and that we are all joining into an assessment and treatment program that involves significant personal time and expertise, I believe that our program will be much more satisfying and successful for the “whole person” if all of our new patients are exposed to this model of care.
Under such a model, we listen, we teach, we integrate, we care, and we are all passionate about what we do.
Robert J. Echenberg, MD, FACOG,
Founder: The Echenberg Institute for Pelvic and Sexual Pain