What Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Updated: Apr 25, 2022
In recent years there's been more information and attention to the health of the pelvic floor. And it's a great step forward as pelvic floor health supports many other bodily functions and a person's overall health.
The pelvic floor muscles attach to the pelvis, tailbone, and sacrum and support the reproductive and urinary tract, helps control bladder and bowel function.
When the muscles are week don't function properly, people experience pain, discomfort, trouble controlling bodily functions etc.
When our patients come and ask us about pelvic floor physical therapy and if it could help them, we always encourage them to try this option.
Pelvic floor physical therapy has been proven to help patients with pelvic pain and other symptoms related to pelvic floor dysfunction.
What Is Pelvic Floor Therapy?
Pelvic floor physical therapy focuses on the pelvic floor muscle group responsible for all the functions mentioned above and treating problems like incontinence, difficulty with urination or bowel movements, constipation, chronic pelvic pain, painful intercourse, etc.
In short, pelvic floor physiotherapy aims to improve and restore the pelvic floor muscles, ligaments and connective tissues, which support the pelvic organs.
Pelvic physical therapy includes patient education, various pelvic floor exercises, manual therapy, pelvic floor biofeedback, electrical stimulation and other techniques that we'll get into a little later.
What Are The Symptoms Of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
Pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms are caused by the imbalances in muscle tone and strength of the pelvic floor.
You should pay attention and schedule a meeting with your physical therapist if you experience one or more of these symptoms:
Frequent and/or painful urination and an urge to urinate
Incontinence or constipation
Pain in the pelvis, hip, abdomen, thighs, lower back
Painful sexual relations
Interstitial cystitis (IC)
What To Expect From Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Before you see your physical therapist, you should know that your pelvic floor therapy treatment depends on your specific problems identified.
Knowing what to expect from pelvic floor pt helps ask your physical therapists the right questions and manage your expectations.
Pelvic floor physical therapy usually entails:
Strengthening or stretching exercises or pelvic muscles, legs
Education about managing the exercises at home
Biofeedback for strengthening or relaxation of the pelvic muscles
Modalities: heat, ice, or electrical stimulation.
Your therapist will create an individual plan that might include all or just a few of these elements.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
One of the most effective and common pelvic floor exercises are Kegels.
Kegels focus on tightening and holding the muscles that control urine flow. The exercises are easy to perform wherever you are: tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold and count 3 - 5 seconds, relax, repeat 10-15 times.
Squeeze and release exercises are similar to Kegels and also effective. To perform, squeeze and lift your pelvic floor muscles very quickly and strongly, release without holding and repeat a few times a day.
Bridge pose tightens the buttocks and pelvic floor. Lying on the back with feet on the floor and hip-width apart, contract your buttocks and pelvis muscles, lift your hips a few inches, hold 5-10 seconds, release and repeat 10 times for 3-4 sets.
Squats are also a great way to strengthen the buttocks and pelvic floor, but shallow squats tend to be more beneficial.
We recommend developing a deep squatting habit to create the posterior pull on the sacrum and balance the work of the pelvic floor.
Who Needs Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Patients who need pelvic floor therapy are people who experience incontinence, chronic pelvic pain, painful intercourse, and difficulty with bowel movements or urination.
For women, it also includes treating endometriosis, vaginismus, vaginal prolapse, bowel and bladder issues, and recovery after childbirth.
Pelvic floor therapy for men is usually recommended to treat premature or painful ejaculation and after prostate surgery.
To know how painful physical therapy can be read more here.
When Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Recommended?
Pelvic floor physical therapy is recommended as an effective remedy for pelvic floor strengthening and mitigating the issues related to pelvic floor imbalances.
Men and women can benefit from the therapy and exercises. Your physician will determine the type of therapy and the cause and prescribe the necessary action course. Learn here the benefits of PT.
How Does Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Work?
Firstly, your therapist will check your medical history and perform an orthopedic examination of the lumbar spine and hips.
They need to assess the internal and external muscles, so you will probably need to walk, sit and stand for the therapist to evaluate potential joint issues that affect your pelvic floor.
Lastly, you will also undergo an internal exam where manual palpation either vaginally or rectally will be used.
Which Techniques Are Used In Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
There are different approaches and techniques of pelvic floor physical therapy. Most of the time, the treatment plans contain both external and internal hands-on therapy. To learn how long is physical therapy click here.
External physical therapy techniques include:
Trigger point therapy
Myofascial release (deep tissue massage)
Pelvic massage therapy
Internal techniques use an instrument or a finger inside the vagina or rectum for trigger point therapy when pressure is put on a specific spot or to inject anesthesia into the trigger points.
Besides that, your therapist may use these techniques:
Electrical stimulation to reduce pain and muscle spasms.
Biofeedback. The electric impulses teach the affected muscles to relax.
Ultrasound to create warming, increase blood flow and help reduce muscle spasms.
Dilator - a tool inserted into the vagina to help stretch tight tissues.
Interferential therapy - another type of electrical stimulation to help reduce pain and spasms.
Lastly, various exercises are prescribed to perform with the help of the therapist and at home.
Pelvic physical therapy may sound invasive and uncomfortable at times, but it's important to remember that it's effective.
With the right custom treatment plan that includes pelvic floor massage, different exercises and techniques like electric stimulation, patients see great improvements in their life quality and pain reduction.
Pelvic floor physical therapy also helps restore normal bladder, rectum and uterus functions and positions.
To find out more about the different pelvic floor therapy techniques consult your physical therapist. Contact Miracle Rehab Clinic and book your appointment now.