For those of you who have never heard of pelvic physiotherapy, or perhaps you were directed here by a friend or health professional, here is an overview of what pelvic physiotherapy is all about and who can benefit from it!
Firstly, what exactly is the “pelvic floor”?
The pelvic floor is a bowl of muscle, ligaments and fascia (also known as connective tissue) that sits at the bottom of your pelvis. It works to support all of your organs inside of you, to stabilize the pelvis and hip joints, and it plays a major role in maintaining urinary continence (stopping leakage) and for sexual function.
Who would benefit from Physiotherapy?
If you suffer from any of the following symptoms you may benefit from pelvic physiotherapy:
Urinary Incontinence – unable to control the leakage of urine (with coughing, physical activity etc)
Urgency – having a strong urge to urinate or have a bowel movement that is difficult to control
Frequency – having to urinate very frequently, disrupting your everyday routine
Pain during or after intercourse or with any sexual stimulation
Diastasis rectus abdominus - separation of the muscles of the abdomen, usually occurs postpartum
Diagnosis of pelvic organ prolapse
Constipation, straining, or pain with bowel movements
Chronic pelvic pain
What to expect from Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy
During your pelvic floor physiotherapy assessment your therapist will take a detailed medical history to fully understand your condition. The physical examination will entail an internal examination of the pelvic floor, vaginally and rectally. This is exam is to determine whether your muscles may be tight (hypertonic) or loose (hypotonic) as well as your ability to contract and relax. Your therapist may also assess your low back, pelvis, hips and surrounding musculature as they can all effect your pelvic floor.
Once your therapist has determined the appropriate plan of action, treatment may include any of the following:
Education: understanding your diagnosis and the how your lifestyle choices may be influencing your condition is the first step to improving the function of your pelvic floor and managing your symptoms. Controlling your diet, monitoring your bowel and bladder habits and postural awareness can all contribute to your pelvic health.
Manual therapy: hands on techniques may be used to stretch, mobilize and release tension in the soft tissue of the pelvic floor and surrounding tissue of the low back, abdomen and lower extremities.
Exercise: exercises to strengthen, lengthen and improve the coordination of the pelvic floor and surrounding musculature to improve its function. Internal examination and retraining of the pelvic floor is considered the gold standard in pelvic health.
Acupuncture: used to alleviate pain and improve neuromuscular function, your therapist can further discuss this during your treatment if they feel it is appropriate for you.
If you think pelvic physiotherapy might be right for you, use the directory at Pelvic Health Solutions ( http://pelvichealthsolutions.ca/find-a-physiotherapist/) to find a physiotherapist closest to you!