Do you suffer from urinary or bowel incontinence, sexual dysfunction or pelvic pain? These symptoms can be hard to talk about, even with a healthcare professional, but they are common amongst women, especially during and after pregnancy. Still, many women brush them off as a normal side effect of pregnancy that will simply get better with time. If these symptoms last longer than six weeks, you might have a weak, tight, or injured pelvic floor.
Fortunately, physical therapy for pelvic floor issues has become more widely offered as an effective treatment to pelvic pain and other issues. If you have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above, trained physical therapists certified in pelvic floor physical therapy could be your best option for relief.
What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Pelvic floor therapy treats the pelvic floor muscle group, which is a vital part of bowel and bladder control, among other functions. Pain and control issues occur when the muscles are too tight, too weak or injured. This is why gynecologists often aren’t able to treat pelvic pain; while OBGYNs specialize in women’s reproductive organs, physical therapists specialize in the musculoskeletal system, which includes the pelvic floor muscles.
To understand how the pelvic floor works, it’s easiest to image it like a hammock that supports the organs; a weak pelvic floor won’t be as supportive, so people may experience symptoms of a prolapse, such as a bulge in the vaginal canal or incontinence, while a tight pelvic floor can cause back pain, constipation and painful urination.
The muscles can be tight or weak for a variety of reasons, and physical therapists who specialize in pelvic therapy can uncover, through specific evaluations, why the muscles aren’t working properly. After the cause has been identified, the therapist will create a treatment program that will work towards resolving the pain and symptoms.
Pregnancy and childbirth can strain or injure the pelvic floor muscles, which can cause:
- A sense of heaviness or pressure in the vagina or rectum
- Urinary or bowel incontinence/pain
- Difficulty holding back gas
- Painful sex
- Pelvic pain
- Low back pain
Exercising the pelvic floor muscles before and after childbirth can help you recover from delivery and help prevent problems from developing later in life. An easy exercise to practice is to squeeze the muscles that you use to hold in gas for five seconds and then release for 10 seconds. A physical therapist can guide you through this and more exercises to help you recover from pregnancy and delivery.
PTSMC is proud to employee a number of physical therapists who are certified in pelvic health and have years of experience treating women who are experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction. Don’t let these symptoms get in the way of your life – get PT and feel better!