What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy and why would I need it?

Recently, you may have noticed commercials or advertisements discussing the medications that might help alleviate bowel issues like an increased urgency “to go”. Or you may have seen a new chair that shakes and it is intended to strengthen “down there” so that you don’t pee in your pants.. These are products created to help with pelvic floor dysfunction.

What Is the Pelvic Floor and What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

Your pelvic floor is the area that spans between your pubic bone to your tailbone (coccyx). The muscles that line this area are grouped together to be called the pelvic floor muscles, and they are responsible for bowel and bladder function (opening and closing of the holes), sexual function, and pushing up against gravity to hold your organs in. They are working, all of the time, and there are instances where they stop working correctly. Pelvic floor dysfunction can affect both men and women, because we all have a pelvic floor! Usually, pelvic floor dysfunction is due to weakness in the muscles or tightness. And both are treated differently. Common symptoms that suggest pelvic floor dysfunction are leaking urine or feces, pain in the back or tailbone area during pregnancy or after giving birth, pressure or pain in the abdomen or lower pubic area, the sensation of increased need to urinate or feeling like you constantly have a bladder or prostate irritation, or pain with intercourse or afterwards. These may be common symptoms, but they are not normal. And they are treatable with pelvic floor physical therapy. How many of us have heard a friend say, “Oh my goodness, I just peed in my pants!” This should never be considered normal! My website has an entire page dedicated to conditions of the pelvic floor, and there are many.

What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?

Pelvic floor physical therapy is not simply doing kegels, although if you’ve thought of this, you are thinking of the correct area of muscles. Pelvic floor dysfunction usually is caused by either weakness in the muscles of the pelvic floor, or tightness. In the case of tightness, doing kegels would actually make the issue worse. A pelvic floor physical therapist is specialized in this area of the body, and is trained to evaluate and treat a variety of conditions including urinary incontinence, urgency and frequency of urination, bladder pain and urinary retention, pelvic, abdominal or tailbone pain, endometriosis or fibroid pains, nerve injuries, painful intercourse, constipation, issues that come from irritable bowel syndrome, fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. The evaluation includes a musculoskeletal evaluation and usually an internal exam. Treatments include any combination of manual therapy techniques to release tight muscles, and exercises such as stretching or strengthening to the targeted area. I am also certified in trigger point dry needling and I am able to release trigger points using dry needling if appropriate. There are also several modifications that can be made to your lifestyle that can greatly affect

how your pelvic floor is functioning, and you will learn about these during your treatment.

There are bandaids out there, like the ones that are listed above such as the vibrating chair or a medication, but these are not permanent solutions and they merely mask symptoms as they possibly get worse. Pelvic Floor Physical therapy changed my life when I needed it, and I continue to meet patients who tell me that I have changed their life as well. It can be very debilitating to have an issue with pain in this area of the body, or a change with urination or defecation that affects your entire day. And it’s so invigorating to find a treatment and take control back of your body.

Haley Wilensky
PT. MPT. CMTPT.

 

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