Understanding Pelvic Floor Therapy
Amber Roche, Physical Therapist, Southwest Health
You’re probably expecting your body to change as you age. The wrinkles feel inevitable, you might be slower moving, you could possibly even have different taste! That’s all to be expected. What’s not normal with getting older? Feeling like you can no longer hold it until you get to the bathroom.
While it might feel like everyone goes through this burden, especially after having kids, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are providers specifically trained to get you back to your normal life and not dread every sneeze. One of those providers is one of Southwest Health’s Physical Therapists, Amber Roche, PT, DPT. She has a special interest in holistic healthcare and modern medicine that helps patients explore pelvic floor therapy.
Below Amber is going to outline exactly what Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy is and how it could potentially impact you! Even if you don’t think you could benefit from learning more, you might be surprised to learn what you think is normal could actually be a warning sign.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can treat various conditions, including pain during pregnancy, incontinence, prolapse, pelvic pain, pain with intercourse, back pain, constipation, and diastasis recti (or a gap in the rectus muscle). Other diagnoses include managing symptoms of interstitial cystitis and endometriosis. Treatment focuses on your personal goals and returning you back to your everyday life.
Pelvic floor therapy is important and applies to anyone who has a pelvis, so everyone! Women are more likely to experience pelvic floor dysfunction due to their anatomy and for those who give birth. Mayo Clinic shares that up to 1 in 3 women over the age of 20 report some form of pelvic floor dysfunction. But all genders can experience pelvic floor dysfunction, even if they may feel embarrassed to talk about it.
Before you can be diagnosed with Pelvic Flood Dysfunction, an evaluation by a licensed physical therapist needs to take place. An evaluation includes a full screen of functional movements, strength, mobility, breathing, and a pelvic floor assessment. During an evaluation, your provider may complete an internal pelvic floor muscular assessment that provides information regarding muscular length-tension relationships, strength, and coordination. Individuals can have both muscular tension and/or weakness that contributes to a wide variety of symptoms.
Now that you have a diagnosis, comes the work! Treatment is focused on deficits that are found with the evaluation. One common misconception is that patients will just be given “kegels” (strengthening of pelvic floor muscles) onto the pelvic floor. as exercises and treatment. Kegels are not given as a standalone treatment as this will not reduce their symptoms. Treatment addresses the movement of the entire body system, as asymmetries there will affect pressure.
Many individuals will not address incontinence with their provider as they assume this is normal following a birth or common with aging or they may be embarrassed about the subject matter. Just because urinary leakage may seem common, it is not normal to have leakage. Another common diagnosis seen in clinics is pain with intercourse, which can come from tension in pelvic floor muscles.
As a quick tip from a Physical Therapist, rethink how you go to the bathroom. Many daily urinary and bowel habits can help prevent the worsening or start of symptoms. One common issue is straining during bowel movements or urination. This can put pressure on internal organs and the pelvic floor. To avoid this, there is an easy tick. First, place your feet on a stool, then lean forward with elbows on your knees and, focus on taking even breaths to prevent straining. Another common tip is to avoid “just in case” urination. This practice can increase urinary urgency over time.
Amber became interested in pelvic health from having pelvic floor dysfunction following having her daughter and being exposed to pelvic health on her first clinical. She saw how beneficial pelvic PT can be and how grateful people were to have someone listen to what they were experiencing and not feel alone in their struggle. Amber completed a clinical in pelvic health and continuing education courses in pelvic health evaluation and treatment. After having her second child, she is again seeing the benefits of pelvic physical therapy and can understand the struggles that individuals face during pregnancy and following birth. She is very passionate about pelvic health and would love to help people feel better again!
To talk with Amber or any Physical Therapist at Southwest Health about possible pelvic floor therapy or other concerns, call the Rehab Services line at (608) 342-4748