Do you frequently need to urinate or do you strain to have a bowel movement? Maybe you feel constipated or leak urine or feces, and sometimes have lower back pain with no known cause. All of these issues may be due to pelvic floor muscle issues. Pelvic floor physical therapy might relieve some of these symptoms.
What Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Everyone has a pelvic floor, and like other types of physical therapy, its goal is to keep those pelvic muscles strong and pain free.
As women, the pelvic muscles keep your bladder in place in the front and your vagina and rectum in the back. Your uterus is located at the top of the pelvic floor and is kept supported by muscles, tendons, and connecting tissue. Lastly, the pelvic floor muscles are attached to your tailbone and pubic bone.
If these important muscles become weak or do not work properly, this is known as pelvic floor dysfunction.
How Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Treats Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
This therapy strengthens and/or relaxes the muscles of the pelvic floor to improve your core, control urination, bowel movements and sexual function. Both decreasing and increasing muscle tone can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction.
Cedar Rapids Ob Gyn customizes each patient’s pelvic floor therapy plan at our office in Cedar Rapids, IA. Your visit will begin with a total assessment of all the muscles surrounding or attached to your pelvis. Next, your pelvic floor muscles will be assessed for tone, pain, and tenderness. Once the assessment is complete, you will be given a plan to address your individual symptoms.
A variety of treatments may be part of your plan:
This will help to reduce pelvic pain and muscle spasms. The procedure is performed first in the office and then you are provided with special equipment to do it at home.
With this technique your pelvic floor physical therapist will check the contraction of your pelvic muscles. Its purpose is to retrain those muscles. It will monitor how your exercises are proceeding and looks for improvement. Electrodes might be placed externally between your vagina and anus or they might use an internal probe to look at the tension and relaxation of the muscles.
This is not the same as a diagnostic ultrasound. This ultrasound provides deep heat to the soft tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments with the goal of reducing inflammation, increasing circulation, and decreasing pain.
There are a number of manual therapies used to treat pelvic floor dysfunction like trigger point release. They are all designed to reduce chronic pain, release muscle tension, improve flexibility, break up scar tissue, and restore function.
You might be familiar with these exercises to control urinary incontinence and pain during sex. These exercises contract and relax your muscles.
Expect that it will take a minimum of 6 to 8 one hour sessions to see relief.
What YOU Can Do
There are ways you can assist with your plan and maintain improvements.
They include the following:
- Ask your care team to teach you and your partner how to perform self massages.
- Use any of the devices (biofeedback, electrical stimulator, etc.) at home on a regular basis.
- Perform Kegel exercises as instructed.
- Avoid straining when urinating or having a bowel movement.
- Stay focused on healthy nutrition, sufficient water consumption, and regular exercise.
- Try yoga, deep breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques.
In time you will become stronger, more fit, and pain free.