Pelvic Floor Health

Whether recovering from a surgery or an injury, physical therapists are musculoskeletal experts who can provide hands-on therapies and prescribe a specific exercise program to get your back to your best self. But did you know that some therapists also specialize in the treatment of pelvic pain and bowel and bladder dysfunction?

Pelvic floor physical therapy can be a solution for some.

The pelvic floor is comprised of ligaments, nerves, and layers of muscles at the bottom of the pelvis and has five main functions:

Support (of the internal organs)

Sphincteric (controls voiding of bowel and bladder)

Sexual (helps maintain erection, provides orgasm)

Stability (of the hips, pelvis, and trunk)

Sump pump (promotes lymphatic flow)

Schedule an appointment in Women’s Health to discuss your options. 360.344.0403

Problems with the pelvic floor can include unwanted loss of urine or feces (incontinence), urinary frequency or urgency, constipation, pain in the pelvis, back, hips, or abdomen, pain with intercourse, and pain or incontinence during and after pregnancy. Your therapist will evaluate the structures of the pelvic floor including their mobility/flexibility, strength, endurance, and coordination. This can be assessed by externally and/or internally palpating the bones and the soft tissues. Internal examination is performed manually (with one gloved finger, as opposed to a gynecologic exam which uses tools like a speculum) either vaginally or rectally. Another method of evaluation and training of the pelvic floor is biofeedback, which is a device with electrodes that displays your muscle contraction on a computer screen.

Depending on the exam findings, you and your therapist will formulate a treatment plan specifically tailored to you. This can include strengthening, manual therapy techniques, and behavioral/lifestyle changes.

While dysfunction of the pelvic floor is common, it is NOT normal to have symptoms of pain or incontinence regardless of age, gender, history of surgery, pregnancy/childbirth, or obesity, but these can be risk factors for developing problems in the pelvis. The good news is: physical therapy can help!  Talk to your provider about your options.

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