Pelvic Floor Therapy
Do you experience urinary leakage when you laugh, cough, sneeze, or strain? Do you avoid activities because you are afraid of embarrassing leakage?
Do you sometimes leak urine because you can’t make it to the bathroom in time or when water is running? Do you feel uncomfortable pressure in your abdomen or a bulge in the vaginal area like something is “falling out”?
Incontinence is a common problem caused by weakness in the pelvic floor, the muscle group responsible for supporting the bladder, rectum, and uterus. When functioning properly, pelvic floor muscles maintain constant, low tone. This resting muscle tone holds and anchors your pelvic organs in proper position. Over time, age, gravity, and childbirth can weaken and loosen these muscles leading to urinary leakage, fecal leakage, and prolapse.
Physical Therapists trained in women’s health can teach you to properly contract pelvic floor muscles in isolation from inner thigh or buttock muscles which are common substitutions for isolated pelvic floor contraction, otherwise known as a Kegel. There are muscles used specifically for quick contractions and muscles used to hold/prolong an urge with a longer, steadier contraction. Physical therapy can teach you how to use both. With appropriate tone in the pelvic floor muscles, resolution of the “pressure” sometimes sensed in the pelvic floor can be obtained, as can possible prevention of surgery.
Do you struggle with pain either internally, in the lower abdomen? Do you experience pain during intercourse?
Pelvic pain is commonly caused by a condition called vaginismus, where the pelvic floor muscles are too tight and have trigger points or spasms contributing to pain. One may also experience bouts with constipation and may feel they have not fully emptied after urination. This is due to an abnormally taut pelvic floor. Other painful conditions may include interstitial cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder strongly affected by diet, and pudendal neuralgia, a condition making it difficult to sit for prolonged periods potentially accompanied by sensation of pressure in the rectum.
Manual therapy can be hugely helpful by training the muscle to relax in order to experience relief. There are both internal and external treatments, which can be used to improve the pelvic floor muscles to normal resting tone and to create symmetry, thus comfort, of the pelvic girdle and muscles involved.
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, physical therapy may be of benefit to you.
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