The pelvic floor consists of a group of muscles within the pelvis that help support pelvic organs and have an important role in controlling bowel, bladder and sexual function. When muscles of the pelvic floor are not functioning properly, pelvic floor dysfunctions such as urinary and/or bowel incontinence, constipation, and pelvic pain may develop.
Though COMMON, with approximately 1 in 4 women experiencing some variation of pelvic floor dysfunction in their lifetime, they should not be considered NORMAL.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help you with these intimate concerns. You are not alone, and we can help. At OSPTI, we aim to help you understand and rehab these delicate and intimate concerns.
Treatment will be one-on-one with your therapist in a discreet environment to provide comfort and ease from the very beginning. All treatments are individually designed after a thorough evaluation and discussion about your individual goals.
Biofeedback is a technique you can use to learn to control some of your body’s functions. During biofeedback, you’re connected to electrical sensors that help you receive information about your body. This feedback helps you make subtle changes in your body, such as relaxing certain muscles to achieve the results you want (Mayo Clinic, 2019). In regards to incontinence, making sure you understand to relax your pelvic floor muscles while voiding and to keep them tight or strengthening when it is not time to use the bathroom is the reason your therapist may use biofeedback during treatment.
The body goes through many changes when pregnancy begins and throughout the duration of pregnancy. Common aches and pains women experience during pregnancy include pelvic girdle pain (PGP) and pregnancy-related low back pain (PLBP).
PGP and PLBP is reported in 70-86% of women in the United States and European countries (Gutke et al, 2018). However, women in the United States are the LEAST likely to get treated, with only 24% seeking treatment and only 32% reporting PGP or PLBP to their health care providers (Wang et all, 2004). Of those that seek treatment, up to 87% report a positive effect (Gutke et al, 2018).
Pregnancy also creates specific stresses to the pelvic floor and abdominal wall musculature that may require and benefit from a physical therapy examination and treatment. Diastasis rectus abdominis (DRA) is a widening of the fibrous tissue between the rectus abdominis muscles which is considered a functional occurrence to accommodate for the growing fetus. The literature shows support for abdominal and core exercise in helping reduce pain, disability, and symptoms related to DRA (Richardson et all, 2000; Collie, 2004; Chiarello et al, 2005; Banerjee et all, 2013; Dufour er al, 2019; Walton et al, 2016).
Physical therapy can also be a beneficial resource for preparing for labor and birth around 36-40 weeks of pregnancy. Your PT can assist with education on self-perineal massage that has been linked to less pelvic floor muscle and sphincter damage, requiring less suture repair, and less pain overall (Ellingson et al, 2017). Physical therapy can also help with increasing flexibility and going over birth and labor positions, as labor requires conditioning of the body to engage in prolonged positions.