Benefits of Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
Pelvic floor physical therapy focuses on the low back and pelvis as a whole and specifically seeks to help to coordinate the pelvic floor muscles. Think of the pelvic floor as a hammock of muscles connecting from your pubic bone at the front and your tailbone in the back. Women’s pelvic floor muscles support the uterus (womb), bladder, and colon (bowel and men’s pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, prostate, and bowel. In both women and men, the rectum and urethra as the pass through the pelvic floor to transfer contents from inside the body to outside the body.
What is pelvic floor physical therapy?
Pelvic floor therapy focuses on the low back, pelvis, abdomen, and pelvic floor muscles. Physical therapy for the pelvic floor is provided in a one to one, individualized, and private treatment setting for each patient. Physical therapists specializing in pelvic health will focus on increasing awareness to the pelvic floor. Some treatment plans will help you address your symptoms by helping the muscles relax to lengthen them, while others may help you strengthen the muscles. Pelvic health physical therapy is a low-risk, first-line, minimally invasive treatment for several diagnoses.
Benefits of Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
Patients seek physical therapy to help a variety of symptoms.
Diagnoses that Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Can Help With:
- Urinary Leakage (Incontinence)
- Urinary frequency and urgency
- Stool Leakage (incontinence)
- Stool urgency and frequency
- Abdominal pain
- Pain with intercourse (Dyspareunia)
- Pain associated with pregnancy ad postpartum
- Abdominal pain
- Pelvic pain
- Prostatectomy (Removal of the prostate)
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
These are some common reasons patients schedule an appointment with a physical therapist.
- You pee a little if you run, laugh, or lift something.
- You recently had a baby, or you are pregnant, especially if your back is sore or your feet swell.
- Sex is painful sometimes or all the time.
- You have endometriosis.
- You have back, hip, buttock (sacroiliac), or tailbone pain.
Pelvic floor therapy can help with urinary leakage (incontinence), frequency, urgency, pain, difficulty stopping or starting urinating and difficulty fully emptying the bladder.
Urinary incontinence is undesired leakage of any urine during the daytime or nighttime. Your physical therapist at Sutton Place Physical and Aquatic Therapy will design a specialized treatment program to help you gain control over your symptoms and reduce your need for medication and even surgery.
As a movement expert, your physical therapist improves your quality of life using hands-on care, education, and prescribed exercise therapy. Your physical therapist teaches you how to sense the movement in your pelvic floor muscles through tensing and releasing movements so you can control your bladder better.
Patients suffering from fecal or stool incontinence (leakage) find physical therapy helpful, as do those who strain or experience pain during bowel movements.
Constipation is a prevalent condition described as straining with bowel movements, feeling like you cannot completely empty your bowels, and having less than three bowel movements per week. Typical treatments for constipation include diet modifications, stool softeners, or laxatives. But these are not always effective. Your physical therapist can help manage constipation through soft tissue techniques (specialized massage), toileting mechanics, education, and exercises.
2. Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse is when the bladder, uterus, or rectum descend downwards and can bulge through the vaginal wall. This can happen with chronic straining with bowel movements, improper lifting techniques combined with lifting heavy objects, and childbirth.
Physical therapy (PT) for pelvic organ prolapse helps if you:
- Can feel or see a bulge through your vagina
- Deal with urine leaks or have difficulty peeing or pooping
- Don’t feel quite right during your daily routines
- Feel different or pressure during sex
Physical therapy offers many patients long-term relief from pelvic organ prolapse through coordinating the pelvic floor muscles and the strengthening the core muscles. Physical therapy for pelvic organ prolapse involves exercises, posture improvements, and breathing techniques for your abdominal muscles and lower back. Typical ab workouts may make your symptoms worse because they put more pressure on your abdomen and pelvic floor causing an increase in pressure. Consulting with a physical therapist can help guide you in the proper exercises to not make your symptoms worse.
Physical therapy is effective for minor to moderate pelvic organ prolapse. Your doctor may recommend surgery if your prolapse is severe. However, physical therapy before and after surgery yields the best outcomes and you feeling the best!
3. General Pelvic Pain
Pelvic pain can have several root causes. Pain in the genital or rectal region can benefit from pelvic floor therapy. Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy may involve manual therapy, electrical stimulation, biofeedback, behavioral education, and exercise programs, depending on your symptoms. This robust evidence-based support is a first-line, minimally invasive option for pelvic floor dysfunctions, including general, chronic pelvic pain.
Pelvic floor muscles become stretched during childbirth, weakened during aging, or become overactive with stress, which eventually leads to pelvic floor dysfunction. Strained connective tissues lead to many pelvic floor disorders, including pelvic pain.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy restores normal pelvic muscle strength, power, endurance, resting tone or a combination to reverse muscle and connective tissue damage contributing to pain.
4. Pain During Intercourse
Several conditions could cause pain during intercourse and thus it can help to be evaluated by a physician. If your doctor does not find a reason for the pain, then a physical therapist can perform an evaluation and determine a treatment plan for you eliminating your pain. If you live in a state where you have direct access, meaning you can go directly to a physical therapist, the physical therapist will also refer you to a physician if they feel like it is necessary. While painful intercourse affects women more than men, it is possible that men can experience pain with intercourse as well.
Pelvic floor physical therapy may dramatically reduce—or eliminate—sexual pain. Safe, gentle techniques help women and men enjoy pleasurably, pain-free intercourse again. When there is pain during sex, the problem is often a series of interconnected muscles, joints, tissues, bones, skin, and nerves.
Pelvic floor physical therapy reverses the vicious cycle of pain and unravels the pain. By increasing pelvic blood flow, decreasing pain sensitivity and releasing trapped nerves, it balances, relaxes, stretches, and tones pelvic muscles.
If you have these symptoms, pelvic floor physical therapy will help you.
Physical Therapy Techniques
As you begin working with your physical therapist for pelvic floor function, you can expect an initial assessment before creating a treatment plan. The initial assessment includes evaluating external and internal muscle groups to determine how you are moving and what treatments will help you. As part of the assessment, your PT will assess how you walk, your sitting and standing posture, muscles surrounding the low back and pelvis, and your pelvic floor.
- If you have tight hips, legs or back, which frequently happens from sitting at a desk, your therapist might show you some stretches to relax the muscles in these areas, which then opens your pelvic floor and reduces tension and thus pain.
- If you have had pelvic surgery like a hysterectomy or Cesarian section (c-section), your physical therapist may find that using manual therapy techniques will release adhesions and scar tissue. Also, ultrasound and cold laser can heal and soften painful vaginal tears or old, sore scars.
If you think Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy might help, get in touch with the physical therapists at Sutton Place Physical Therapy and book an appointment today!