‘It’s not always a clear diagnosis’: Desert Pain addresses chronic pain concerns in women

Stock image | Photo by dragana991/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Living with chronic pain is a daily battle against a nearly invisible enemy. Striving to improve quality of life for every patient, the physicians at Desert Pain Specialists practice evidence-based, forward-thinking medicine that integrates the newest treatments in pain management.

(L-R) Dr. Spencer Wells, Dr. Court Empey, Dr. Rachel Allen and Dr. Ryan Workman of Desert Pain Specialists, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Desert Pain Specialists, St. George News

“We want to treat you as the unique person you are,” said Dr. Rachel Allen, a board-certified anesthesiologist and pain management physician with Desert Pain. “We’re here to get our patients back to the lives they’re meant to live.” 

Allen, a native of Salt Lake City, attended undergraduate and medical school in Wisconsin before completing her residency and fellowship at the University of Utah. When she joined Desert Pain in July 2018, she was the only female pain management physician in Southern Utah. 

When it comes to chronic pain, Allen said that a higher proportion of women are affected, yet women are less likely to receive treatment. 

Chronic pelvic pain

If you can jump on a trampoline without worrying about bladder leakage, consider yourself lucky – your pelvic floor is intact. Allen said that many people aren’t aware of their pelvic floor and the important role these muscles play in everyday life, including providing support for several major organs. 

A welcome waiting room greets guests at Desert Pain Specialists, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Jeff Hauck courtesy of Desert Pain Specialists, St. George News

“Unfortunately, when it doesn’t work, you know very well,” she said. “It becomes a huge portion of our physical health, emotional health and sexual health.” 

Although women are more likely to experience chronic pelvic pain due to pregnancy and childbirth, everyone has a pelvic floor. Allen said that consulting a pain management physician will rule out the abdomen, gastrointestinal tract, uterus and ovaries as possible sources of the issue. A proper diagnosis and treatment plan doesn’t have to be difficult and can lead to significant improvement in quality of life. 

Desert Pain connects patients with physical therapists who focus on the pelvic floor to begin strengthening and healing that area. Injections can be also helpful for people experiencing pain as a result of nerve irritation in the pelvic region, Allen said. 

Headaches and migraines

Headaches have many causes, including lack of sleep, dehydration, stress and certain types of food. Migraines amplify the pain of a headache to an often debilitating level coupled with hypersensitivity to light and sound. 

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, women in the United States are over three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men, particularly during the years between puberty and menopause, and 85% of chronic migraine sufferers are female. 

Allen said the physicians at Desert Pain approach headaches and migraines with a dual treatment plan: a preventive to reduce the amount of episodes the patient suffers weekly or monthly and an abortive to lessen the pain once an episode occurs. Because headaches respond differently to specific medications depending on their cause, options range from nerve blocks to new injectables that patients receive once a month

“The research is showing excellent results in those types of treatments,” Allen said. “For some, it has been life-changing.” 


Characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed, Allen said. At one point in time, the medical community wasn’t sure it actually existed. 

A treatment room with a view at Desert Pain Specialists, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Jeff Hauck courtesy of Desert Pain Specialists, St. George News

Because fibromyalgia is so difficult to diagnose, the physicians at Desert Pain first perform a thorough evaluation to eliminate other possible causes of pain, such as an infection or issues with the brain or spinal cord. Allen said that once these potential sources are ruled out, they can begin to hone in on a treatment plan. 

At Desert Pain, patients also receive lifestyle guidance to help improve their well-being. Allen said studies have demonstrated that 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day can improve fibromyalgia symptoms more than some medications. However, there’s no quick fix.

“Being patient as we take this journey is so crucial because it’s such a frustrating thing, and it’s not always a clear diagnosis,” she said. “To have somebody in your corner consistently trying to figure out what’s going to work for your body is very important.” 

Allen said each person who passes through the doors of Desert Pain is more than just a number or a name on a chart, and the services provided go beyond simply treating pain. They want every patient to be seen, heard, understood and supported throughout their pain management journey.

About Desert Pain Specialists

Desert Pain Specialists is Southern Utah’s premier interventional pain management team. The doctors and the entire staff are dedicated to helping patients find relief from their pain. Their state-of-the-art facility in St. George allows them to offer unmatched quality of care for their patients.

Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.

• S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T • 


  • Desert Pain Specialists | Telephone: 435-216-7000 | Email: [email protected] | Website.
  • Locations:
    • St. George: 617 E. Riverside Drive, Suite 301.
    • Hurricane: 48 S. 2500 West, Suite 110.
    • Cedar City: 1760 N. Main St.
    • Beaver: 68 N. Main St.
    • Panguitch: 200 N. 400 East.
    • Kanab: 460 E. 300 South, Suite 4.
    • Mesquite, Nevada: 340 Falcon Ridge Parkway, Suite 600.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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