“I didn’t even know this was a thing.”
This is the most common sentiment expressed during a typical session with a new patient undergoing evaluation for pelvic floor dysfunction. Whether they were referred by a physician or did a general Google search in a desperate attempt for answers, many people are shocked to find this is a specialty at all, let alone a subset of physical therapy. The good news is there is hope for those struggling with pelvic floor dysfunction.
Pelvic Floor Therapy Is Becoming More Common
While knowledge of pelvic health physical therapy continues to grow, seeking treatment for issues that are stigmatized to be normal or expected (such as those that are associated with aging or postpartum) is also growing. Equally as surprising to patients can be the simple fact that humans of every gender and age – men, women, and children – have a pelvic floor and are therefore susceptible to dysfunction.
Given that physical therapists are experts in addressing issues regarding the musculoskeletal and neurological systems primarily, the pelvic floor is a logical treatment area since multiple layers of muscle sit within the pelvis with its own unique blood supply and innervation. While dysfunction may be identified by the primary provider, urologist, gynecologist, or OB-GYN, follow-up treatment is provided by pelvic floor therapists with specialized training.
Signs You Could Benefit from Pelvic Floor Therapy
Quite often, pelvic floor dysfunction can manifest in pain elsewhere, called referred pain, in nearby areas, including the back, hips, groin, or abdomen. More easily identified afflictions of the pelvic floor specifically include bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction such as urinary and fecal incontinence, overactive bladder, pelvic pain, chronic constipation, dyspareunia (painful intercourse), diastasis rectus abdominis (DRA), pelvic organ prolapse, and pregnancy-related conditions. Fortunately, these can all be addressed by a pelvic floor therapist!
What Is Pelvic Floor Therapy?
Pelvic floor therapy involves a variety of exercises that will assist your pelvic muscles to both relax and strengthen. Pelvic floor dysfunction can be from muscles that are too weak or sometimes ones that are too tight and your physical therapist will be able to determine which is causing your specific issues. Your physical therapist will examine your core muscles to determine their strength and endurance and may also have you attempt different exercises and postures to assess the coordination of your pelvic floor muscles. The goal of pelvic floor therapy is to alleviate your symptoms, such as regulating bladder control, so you can get back to doing the things you love.
Try Pelvic Floor Therapy at Peak Sport & Spine
Although it may initially seem like an awkward topic, I strongly encourage you to discuss any and all concerns and symptoms openly with your physician to pursue the best treatment options available, beginning with the conservative option, which is pelvic floor physical therapy. I am passionate about empowering and improving the quality of life for all patients, including their pelvic floor! Find a location near you and start improving your pelvic floor health today.
May your coffee, intuition, self-love, and pelvic floor be strong,
- Katelyn Foley, DPT