Pelvic floor physical therapy is a treatment method that employs physical therapy principles to provide a structured, effective, and safe reconditioning of the pelvic floor muscles. The treatment aims to improve the strength and function of the pelvic floor muscles while also alleviating pain, weakness, and dysfunction. A skilled physical therapist manipulates the muscles through the rectum or vagina to improve their strength and functionality during treatment. If the muscles are short and contracted, the therapist may stretch them or apply resistance to increase their strength if they are weak and dysfunctional.
When Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Recommended?
When Should You Get Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Pelvic floor therapy focuses on the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that support the pelvic organs, contribute to sexual arousal and orgasm and aid in bladder and bowel control.
The tissues are attached to the pelvis, tailbone, and sacrum. They work together to support the urinary and reproductive tract, which includes the uterus, prostate, bladder, rectum, urethra, and vagina. They provide pelvic stability and promote pelvic organ function, such as sexual and voiding functions, posture, and breathing. When pelvic muscles fail to function properly, pain and symptoms that interfere with normal functioning occur.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help with the following:
- Painful urination
- Bladder and bowel movements
- Urinary incontinence, frequency, and urgency
- Fecal incontinence
- Rectal pain
- Unexplained pain
- Painful sex or genital pain
- Menopause symptoms
- Postpartum and pregnancy wellness
- Pregnancy-related pain
- Testicular pain
How Does Pelvic Floor Therapy Work?
Pelvic floor therapy begins with a history of past surgical and medical history, medications, and sexual, gynecologic, or obstetric history. A thorough orthopedic exam is done, paying close attention to the lumbar spine and hips and how the person walks and stands. The assessment usually includes checking both the internal and external muscles. The patient is often asked to stand, walk, and sit so that the therapist can see if their posture or joints are causing problems with the pelvic floor muscles.
The evaluation helps determine whether the therapy is appropriate and guides the development of an appropriate care plan. Moreover, the type of therapy recommended is usually determined by the symptoms experienced. Relaxing and lengthening muscle exercises, for example, may be required to relieve some symptoms, whereas strengthening exercises are appropriate in other cases.
So the eventual treatment plan may include the following:
- Exercising the legs, trunk, or pelvic muscles to stretch or strengthen them.
- The use of ice, heat, or electrical stimulation.
- Education in self-management and prevention.
- Exercises for relaxing shortened pelvic muscles.
- Biofeedback for pelvic muscle relaxation and/or strengthening.
- Coordination exercises.
The physical therapist manipulates pelvic floor muscles as part of a customized treatment plan to restore strength and function. For example, shortened and contracted muscles are stretched to relax to relieve pelvic floor pain caused by excessive tightening and cramping. Likewise, appropriate techniques are used to strengthen muscles, relieve contractions caused by an overactive bladder, and keep the bladder, rectum, and uterus in their proper positions. Finally, the therapy helps in the relief of pain and other symptoms, as well as the restoration of normal functioning.
Does Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Work?
While pelvic physical therapy may sound unusual and invasive, it is quite effective. Patients experience success and improved quality of life following treatment, though efficacy depends on the treatment’s severity. The therapy takes 6-8 one-hour sessions over a few weeks to treat myofascial pelvic pain, but it may take several months in severe cases. Patients may also need to come back for therapy regularly to keep their problems under control.
Are you or a loved one experiencing pelvic pain and other symptoms? Pelvic pain is never normal, and getting treatment as soon as possible is critical. The longer you suffer from chronic pain, the more likely your nerve receptors will become sensitized to it. As a result, your body’s response to pain will be heightened, making it more severe and difficult to treat. So, if you have unexplained chronic pelvic pain, see a pelvic floor disorder specialist as soon as possible for a timely diagnosis and treatment.
Pelvic Floor Therapy in Kearney, NE
At Elite Health and Wellness in Kearney, NE, our therapists have extensive experience identifying and treating dysfunction in the pelvic floor region and related systems. For more information, please contact us at (308) 455 1500.