It is estimated that 20% of women and 10% of men will experience some degree of pelvic pain during their lifetime. Research tells us that the musculoskeletal system frequently plays a role in this pain, and in fact can at times be the precipitating factor in chronic pelvic pain. Pelvic pain diagnoses that generally present with a concurrent pelvic floor dysfunction and that will benefit from physical therapy including the following:
• Interstitial Cystitis (painful bladder syndrome)
• Pelvic Girdle Pain
• Sacro-Iliac Joint Dysfunction
Urinary incontinence is an involuntary loss of urine which can be triggered by a cough, sneeze, exercise or a strong urge to urinate. Urinary incontinence is experienced by up to 60% of women in this country, but only 30-50% seek help. Often times women see incontinence as an unavoidable consequence of childbirth or just part of the aging process. Fortunately, this is not true. Through the skilled treatment provided by a Pelvic Health physical therapist, you will be able to gain control over your bladder and return to the lifestyle you enjoy.
Fecal Incontinence is the involuntary loss of bowel control. This can occur due to tissue or muscle damage following childbirth or be associated with a bowel dysfunction. As noted above, through education, behavioral strategies, manual techniques and therapeutic exercise you will learn how to gain control over your bowel function and be able to return to your previous level of social and physical activity.
PELVIC ORGAN PROLAPSE
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when an organ, ie bladder, uterus or rectum have dropped from their normal position in the pelvis. A prolapse can be caused by injuries sustained during childbirth, aging and activities that involve heavy lifting. Symptoms of a pelvic prolapse can include pelvic pressure/heaviness, a feeling like “something is falling out”, lower backache, constipation and bladder and bowel dysfunction. Physical therapy is the first line of treatment for pelvic prolapse. By improving possible associated behaviors and identifying which muscles are weak, physical therapy will help you maximize your pelvic floor function and minimize and manage your symptoms.
The natural changes experienced throughout a woman’s body that occur during both pregnancy and the postpartum period, can pose challenges and possibly pain and discomfort. During pregnancy (prenatal) it is not uncommon to experience low back pain, pelvic girdle or tailbone pain, urinary incontinence, tingling in arms or hands and swelling of hands and feet. These symptoms are a response to changes in posture, hormone levels, blood volume and stretched muscles. A Pelvic Health physical therapist can treat any pregnancy-related symptoms with education, manual “hands-on” treatment and a customized home exercise program.
After delivery, whether vaginal or C-section, a woman’s body begins a recovery process. In addition to the stress of carrying the baby for nine months, she is also recovering from the resulting trauma to her pelvic floor, connective tissue and abdominal wall. Common postpartum complaints include urinary incontinence, abdominal pain/weakness, painful episiotomy scar, and pelvic organ prolapse. Many women also experience painful intercourse due to hypersensitivity of the vaginal tissues. Early intervention, in the form of an evaluation by a Pelvic Health physical therapist, is beneficial for all women to address immediate concerns and also to prevent possible future problems.