Pelvic floor physical therapy
The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles and ligaments in the pelvis that serve a few unique functions. These muscles are responsible for holding internal organs inside, closing the valves of the bladder and bowels to ensure continence, and for part of sexual function. They also serve as part of the “core”.
When these muscles become weak or loose, leakage of stool or urine can occur. When these muscles are too tight or they spasm, they cause pain and possible retention of urine or stool. Pelvic floor problems can occur at any age. Although pelvic floor symptoms may be common, they are not normal.
Pelvic floor conditions
- Pelvic organ prolapse: relaxation of the bladder, uterus, bowel or rectum into the vaginal canal.
- Pelvic pain: external or internal pain occurring anywhere in the pelvic region.
- Urinary incontinence: unintentional loss of urine. Urinary leakage can be caused by many things.
- Urinary urgency/frequency: having a strong urge to urinate or urinating frequently (ex: every hour)
- Fecal incontinence: unintentional leakage of stool (feces)
- Constipation: < 3 bowel movements/week, hard lumpy stools or straining with bowel movements
At Advanced Women’s Healthcare, patients are evaluated and treated by a physical therapist that has specialized training in pelvic floor dysfunction.
Treatments may include:
- education about your muscles, ligaments, body mechanics and habits
- exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor and surrounding aspects of the core
- exercises/techniques to relax the pelvic floor and surrounding muscle groups
- bladder/bowel retraining
- simple dietary modifications to stop bladder/bowel irritation
The physical therapist may also use:
- Biofeedback: a painless way to identify, strengthen and/or relax the muscles of the pelvic floor
- Exercise or release of other “core” muscles that assist the pelvic floor, such as hip, low back, abdominal muscles.
- Electrical stimulation: Another painless way to facilitate good contraction or relaxation of the muscles in order to gain continence.
- Dilators: A way to increase relaxation and allow stretching/accommodation of the pelvic floor muscles to reduce pain.
Other conditions that can be effectively managed with physical therapy:
- Pregnancy related changes/pain
- Post-partum care and strengthening
- Sacroiliac joint pain/dysfunction
- Diastasis Recti
- Post-surgical care and strengthening
- Back/neck pain
- Lower extremity pain/problems
- Upper extremity pain/problems