What is the Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor refers to the boney pelvis and layers of muscles and connective tissues that support pelvic organs including the uterus, bladder, and rectum.
Pelvic rehabilitation is a non-surgical approach to rehabilitation of dysfunctions in the pelvis that contribute to complaints involving the bowel and bladder, pregnancy or postpartum status, sexual health, and pain. These complaints are treated by a physical therapist who has been specifically trained in pelvic health. Treatment approaches can include many techniques including pelvic floor exercises, hands on care (manual therapy) to release restrictions in various muscles, stretching, nutrition and lifestyle changes, breathing techniques, global strengthening techniques, and additional education to give the patient ongoing tools to resolve the complaint. A personalized program is developed by your physical therapist to best reach your goals.
Pelvic floor issues are rarely isolated; symptoms commonly emerge together and one problem can sometimes cause a cascading effect. These complaints are very common, but not normal. Some of the complaints that pelvic health therapists can treat include the following:
- Pregnancy and postpartum recovery
- Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA)
- Bowel and bladder issues
- urinary urgency
- painful sex
- generalized pelvic pain
- vulvodynia (pain of the vulva)
- Musculoskeletal complaints involving pain in the back, hips, groin, and/or abdomen
What to expect during an appointment?
The first appointment will involve a detailed discussion about your complaints as well as additional information regarding your medical history and lifestyle. As part of the assessment, your PT may need to complete an internal exam in order to determine the strength and flexibility of your pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic health physical therapists are trained and well acquainted with the sensitivity and personal nature of these topics and areas of your body.