Pelvic floor physiotherapy, also known as pelvic health physical therapy, is a specialized form of physical therapy that focuses on assessing and treating conditions related to the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding structures. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that span the bottom of the pelvic cavity, supporting organs like the bladder, uterus, and rectum, as well as playing a crucial role in urinary and fecal continence.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is performed by licensed physiotherapists or physical therapists who have undergone additional training in this specific area.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Can be Caused By:
- Under-Activity/Hypotonicity of the Pelvic Floor Muscles (Weakness): Contributing to symptoms of incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
- Over-Activity/Hypertonicity of the Pelvic Floor Muscles (Tightness): Contributing to symptoms of chronic pelvic pain, dyspareunia (pain with intercourse), vaginismus, vulvodynia, pudendal neuralgia, interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, endometriosis, chronic prostatitis, urinary and fecal urgency, and urge incontinence.
Symptoms Associated with Pelvic Floor Dysfunction:
- Pelvic Girdle Pain
- Diastasis Recti
- Hip Pain
- Pre & Post Natal Care
- Chronic Low Back Pain
- Chronic Sacroiliac Pain
Pelvic floor dysfunction can be caused by pregnancy and childbirth, hormonal changes like menopause, excessive heavy lifting, pelvic surgery or straining when urinating or having a bowel movement.
What to Expect During Treatment:
- Internal Assessment: This involves the insertion of a gloved, lubricated finger into the vagina to evaluate the strength and tension of the pelvic floor muscles. The therapist will thoroughly explain what the assessment and treatment will involve (including proper draping), give you alternative options, and obtain your consent before proceeding. You may withdraw your consent at any time.
- External Assessment: The therapist may also examine the pelvic area externally to assess posture, muscle tone, and alignment.
- Pelvic Floor Exercises: Therapists prescribe targeted exercises to strengthen or relax the pelvic floor muscles based on the patient’s specific condition.
- Biofeedback: This technique involves using sensors to provide visual or auditory feedback about muscle activity during exercises, helping patients understand and control their pelvic floor muscles better.
- Education: Patients receive guidance on proper posture, body mechanics, and behavioural modifications that can support pelvic floor health.
Persistent pain education is an important part of treating pelvic floor dysfunction since the pelvic floor is an area that we often hold tension. Anxiety, stress and our thoughts, attitudes and beliefs can perpetuate the pain in our pelvis. Understanding how our pain system works has shown to be an effective way of reducing the threat of ongoing pelvic floor dysfunction.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a non-invasive and conservative treatment approach, and in many cases, it can significantly improve pelvic health and quality of life for those experiencing pelvic floor-related issues. However, it’s essential to consult a qualified healthcare professional to determine if pelvic floor physiotherapy is appropriate for your specific conditions.