Pelvic health physical therapy is a hot topic right now. How do I know if I need it? Does it actually work? Read on to find out more!
The pelvic floor (or pelvic diaphragm) is a group of muscles that form a sling from the tailbone to the pubic bone. These muscles provide support to our internal organs, and hold important roles in our bowel, bladder, and sexual health. Lastly, the pelvic floor assists in core stabilization during activities like running and weight lifting.
What is Pelvic Health PT?
Pelvic Health Physical Therapy (PT) focuses on the evaluation, assessment, and treatment of the pelvic floor. A pelvic floor specialist is a physiotherapist who is specifically trained to address mechanical dysfunction of this muscle system. One of the first things we determine is whether the pelvic floor is being under or over-utilized. Then we prescribe specific exercises to get you back to optimal function.
Pelvic floor PT can help with a range of conditions. These include pre and postnatal care, urinary or fecal incontinence, pain with sexual activity or voiding, pelvic pain, or pelvic organ prolapse. Your pelvic health physical therapist is here to listen to your concerns. Together, we create a plan of care that will get you back to the things you love to do.
Here are five reasons why you might want to finally schedule that appointment:
You pee a little when you run, lift weights, or laugh.
This is also known as stress incontinence. Leaking when you run, lift weights, or laugh can mean that physical activity is putting pressure (or stress) on your bladder. Though many people can experience leaking with activity for various reasons, it doesn’t have to be your new normal.
You recently gave birth, or are preparing for childbirth.
Strengthening, or maintaining strength of the pelvic floor can significantly improve your perinatal experience.
A pelvic health PT can help you address concerns throughout your pregnancy, such as back pain and uncomfortable swelling in the legs and feet. After childbirth, we will re-assess the tone of your pelvic floor and create a plan of care designed to help you achieve optimum function.
Diastasis is another common concern after giving birth. Your pelvic floor PT will assess for diastasis and show you safe methods for strengthening the abdominal wall. We can even help nursing parents with things like a clogged milk duct! At Symmetry Physical Therapy, babies are welcome. (But no walkers, please!) You can be confident that you will receive the care you need without having to coordinate babysitting for your little one.
You experience pain with sex.
Sex shouldn’t hurt, but it often can. Pelvic floor muscles, like any muscle, can spasm (get tight). This can lead to pain during or after sex, or during orgasm. Other times, scarring from surgery or trauma can lead to pelvic pain with intercourse. A pelvic floor specialist can show you special exercises to reduce tone (muscle tension) and desensitize sensitive tissue to restore these muscles to a better length-tension relationship.
You live with endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the inside of your uterus begins to grow outside of the uterus. During your menstrual cycle, your body is unable to shed this tissue like it does inside the uterus. This can cause inflammation and pain. Manual therapy techniques such as gentle massage have been shown to help decrease pain associated with menstruation and sexual activity.
You have back, sacroiliac, hip, or tailbone pain.
We mentioned earlier that the pelvic floor plays a big role in core stabilization. For this reason it can be related to other presentations like back pain, SI, hip, or coccyx pain. Your pelvic floor PT can treat you from a whole body perspective. We assess your pelvic floor system along with the rest of the musculoskeletal system to provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan.
Pelvic floor dysfunction may not be the primary cause of your pain, but addressing mechanical issues there in tandem with traditional physical therapy could help get you back to a pain free life.
What should I do now?
At Symmetry Physical Therapy, we are committed to helping our patients live their best lives. If you think you might benefit from Pelvic Health Physical Therapy, make an appointment today! Click here to verify your insurance benefits and schedule an appointment.
Looking for more information on pelvic floor physical therapy? See what the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy has to say.
Written By: Dr. Nicole C. Ramos, PT, DPT