How much do you know about Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
What is pelvic floor PT?
It is the treatment of dysfunctions related to the pelvic floor. These can cause issues related to pain, including low back pain, pelvic pain, dyspareunia (pain with sexual intercourse), or vulvodynia. They can also lead to functional problems like urinary incontinence or urgency, fecal incontinence or urgency, constipation, nocturia (having to urinate during the night), or prolapse. Pelvic floor physical therapy is used to treat these disorders by evaluating to find the source of the problem and restoring proper function.
What conditions are treated?
- Urinary Incontinence (urge, stress, and mixed)
- Fecal urgency
- Pelvic, low back, sacral, hip pain
- Dyspareunia (pain with intercourse)
- Nocturia (urination at night)
- Post partum recovery
- Post partum incisional pain or scarring (c-sections or vaginal deliveries)
- Diastasis recti
Why is this treatment provided by a physical therapist?
The pelvic floor is made up of skeletal muscle. These muscles work closely with the muscles of the hips, abdomen, and low back; as well as coordinate with muscles of respiration including the diaphragm. Understanding the anatomy and physiology of the skeletal muscle along with the knowledge of biomechanics and how these different areas of the body work together is crucial in restoring the patient back to full, normal function.
Who needs pelvic floor PT?
Women often assume that pelvic floor symptoms are normal. They may be common, but they are not normal. Issues like incontinence, nocturia, sacroiliac joint pain, constipation, sensation of pressure on the pelvic floor, pelvic pain, dyspareunia (pain with sexual intercourse), and diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal wall), are just some of the issues that can be treated with pelvic floor PT. Urinary leakage of any amount with any type of activity is abnormal and should be addressed, even with physical activity such as running or weightlifting. Although these issues can arise at many different times in a woman’s life, after pregnancy and after menopause are common times for them to occur. It is always important when seeking treatment for pelvic conditions to have an evaluation performed by your physician to assess appropriateness of physical therapy.
What should I expect with pelvic floor PT?
Pelvic floor physical therapy is used to help decrease symptoms, not to cause fear. A thorough history will be taken for the physical therapist to fully understand what the patient has been experiencing. An evaluation will be done on the biomechanics of the whole body, then more specifically on local joints, including the low back and hips. If required, the pelvic floor muscles are evaluated for strength, trigger points, and function. When the cause of the symptoms is found, a treatment plan is put together, with the goal being to return to normal function. This starts with more targeted treatment, and progresses to functional movements and activities.
Andrea San Luis DPT.