The Role of Physical Therapy in Pelvic Health

Pelvic muscles, also known as the pelvic floor muscles, serve a vital role in our bodies. They provide support to our pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum, helping to maintain their proper position and function. These muscles also play a crucial role in controlling urinary and bowel movements, as well as sexual function. Properly functioning pelvic muscles contribute to overall core stability and help prevent issues such as incontinence, pelvic pain, and pelvic organ prolapse. Strengthening and maintaining the health of these muscles is essential for overall well-being and can be achieved through exercises and physical therapy.

You may not think about it often, but when they become weak or dysfunctional, you can suffer from a variety of health problems. When this happens, Twin Cities physical therapy can help. They will assess your condition and create a care plan to guide your therapy.  Physical therapists specializing in pelvic health work with patients to assess and treat issues like pelvic pain, incontinence, postpartum recovery, and pelvic floor dysfunction. Through personalized exercises, manual therapy techniques, and education, they help individuals regain control, strengthen pelvic muscles, and alleviate discomfort. This specialized care not only enhances physical function but also empowers patients to lead more fulfilling lives, promoting optimal pelvic health and quality of life.

Strengthen the Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor muscles play a critical role in bladder and bowel control. Women and men with weak or tight pelvic muscles can experience urinary dysfunction, including frequent urination and incontinence. Pelvic floor physical therapy strengthens these muscles and improves their coordination to relieve pain, manage bladder or bowel issues, and increase sexual function.

During an evaluation, professionals at Saunders Therapy Centers, Inc will check the strength and coordination of the pelvic floor muscles, as well as surrounding muscle groups. In many cases, strengthening or lengthening exercises are prescribed. Other times, your PT may include relaxation or coordination training exercises to promote the healing of the muscles. For some patients, the therapist may also use dry needling techniques (which involve pressing on trigger points) or a technique called electrical stimulation.

Your therapist will help you learn more about your pelvic anatomy and how the muscles work together to improve your symptoms. You will learn when it is appropriate to tighten and relax the muscles as you perform your daily activities, like going to the bathroom or having a bowel movement. You will also learn the best way to train your muscles for the specific activities you want to do.

Many people find that after completing pelvic floor physical therapy, they have better sexual functioning and enjoy pleasurable, comfortable intercourse with their partner. For women, this can reduce or eliminate the sexual pain that is a common symptom of pelvic floor dysfunction, known as interstitial cystitis (IC). 

In addition, pelvic floor physical therapy can improve core strength and posture, which helps prevent back pain and enhances athletic performance for everyone, regardless of age or gender. The treatment can also improve your sexual intimacy by increasing the size of your orgasms.

Pelvic floor physical therapy is one of the most important ways you can improve your overall quality of life and enhance your body’s innate ability to heal itself. If you are interested in learning more about pelvic floor physical therapy, request a referral from your primary care provider, gynecologist, or urologist.

Relieve Pain

As you progress through physical therapy, your therapist will help relieve pain from your pelvic floor muscles. This can help to decrease sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and improve mobility. Depending on your condition, your therapist may use manual (hands-on) treatment, hot and cold therapies, acupuncture, or a technique called dry needling to ease pain.

Physical therapists often provide education on managing pain, including ways to prevent it from getting worse and methods to treat flare-ups. They might also use cognitive-behavioral techniques such as relaxation training and graded exposure to reduce fear and avoidance behaviors that are often seen in patients with chronic pain.

Many people with chronic pain stop moving and exercise because they worry it will make the pain worse. However, this can lead to deconditioning, which further increases the pain because the muscles become weaker.

Your PT will teach you to move again, and he or she will help to identify specific movements that can decrease pain. Your therapist may also use modalities such as heat or ice to reduce pain, and ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) to relax muscles and decrease pain.

It is important to communicate your pain levels with your therapist and to be honest about how the treatments are affecting you. Your therapist will be able to tell if you are exaggerating or not being truthful, which can negatively affect your treatment plan and your recovery.

Pain can be difficult to diagnose, but your therapist will be able to use tests and a physical examination to identify the source of your pain. For example, he or she will ask you about your past health and lifestyle to see what might contribute to your pain, such as previous injuries, habits, emotional stressors, and social factors.

Your PT will develop a person-centered pain management plan that identifies your goals, needs, and resources. Using the right approach will support self-management and reduce barriers to treatment and adherence. Your therapist will be able to help you build confidence in your ability to manage your pain and increase the likelihood of compliance with your treatment plan.

Manage Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a condition that affects upward of 13 million people in America. It’s characterized by unintentional urine or fecal leakage, most commonly occurring during the day and night. While many people have resigned themselves to using incontinence aids or resorting to medication or surgery, physical therapy has proven to be extremely effective at minimizing leakage and improving bladder control.

Physical therapists at Saunders Therapy Centers, Inc are uniquely trained to understand how the muscles of the pelvic floor and core connect to movement and posture. They can educate patients on how to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor through hands-on care, controlled movements, and exercises that can be practiced at home. Depending on the type of incontinence, physical therapists may also recommend specific exercises to improve posture. For instance, women with stress urinary incontinence (SUI) often benefit from Kegel weights for home practice to help improve the strength of the pelvic floor muscles.

The two main types of urinary incontinence are stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs when there’s an increase in pressure on the bladder. It can be caused by pregnancy, coughing or sneezing, lifting something heavy, jumping, or other physical activities. However, it’s normally the result of weak, overused pelvic floor muscles.

Urge incontinence, on the other hand, occurs when there is a sudden, intense need to urinate. This usually stems from a miscommunication between the brain and the bladder. The cause could be due to medical issues like diabetes or a neurological disorder. It could also be caused by certain foods or drinks, such as caffeine, or medications like blood pressure drugs and sedatives.

Urinary incontinence is incredibly common, but it doesn’t have to be. Talk to your doctor about getting a referral to a physical therapist who has completed special training in pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence management. It’s also a good idea to do your research on the physical therapist before making an appointment.

Prevent Incontinence

If your bladder leaks are impacting your quality of life – causing you to cancel social engagements, and forcing you to keep track of how much fluid you drink — talk to your doctor about the best ways to prevent urinary incontinence. They may suggest pelvic floor physical therapy as the first step in treating this distressing condition.

The muscles that form the pelvic floor stretch from your tailbone to your pubic bone and around the urethra, acting as a hammock that supports the pelvic organs like the bladder, rectum, and uterus. If the muscle weakens, it can affect your ability to control urination and bowel movement and impact your sexual function. This can be a result of pregnancy, childbirth, aging, poor posture, abdominal or pelvic trauma, weight gain, smoking, chronic constipation, and certain diseases such as diabetes or spinal cord injury.

Stress incontinence is when you unintentionally release urine during a change in pressure, such as lifting heavy objects, coughing, sneezing, or exercising. The underlying cause of this type of incontinence is usually that the pelvic floor muscles are not working properly, but it can also be a result of childbirth or the use of medication for prostate issues. Over time, you can strengthen your muscles, improve your posture, and learn to contract the pelvic floor muscles just before physical stress.

Urge incontinence is when you feel the need to urinate frequently, even at night. The underlying cause is often that the pelvic floor muscles are not working as they should, but it can also be due to lifestyle factors such as drinking too much liquid, poor diet, and chronic constipation.

Although it’s a tough pill to swallow, the benefits of pelvic health and incontinence treatment can be enormous. You can improve your life, avoid embarrassing bladder leaks, and save money on pads or medications in the long run. You’ll feel empowered once you’ve taken charge, strengthened your body, and kicked those bladder leaks to the curb for good! The good news is that, with pelvic floor physical therapy MN, it can all be done safely and quickly.

Pelvic muscles, also known as the pelvic floor muscles, serve a vital role in our bodies. They provide support to our pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum, helping to maintain their proper position and function. These muscles also play a crucial role in controlling urinary and bowel movements, as well as sexual function.…