What is Physical Therapy for ‘Women’s Health’?

Physical therapy for the pelvic floor? What is that? Consider this:

“4 million births occur each year in the United States 2.7 million are vaginal, 54-80 thousand have grade 3-4 perineal tearing. What if 80,000 people with full thickness rotator cuff tears didn’t get rehab and were told “You’ll be fine. Here’s a newborn to care for. See you in 6 weeks!1” It may not seem intuitive to think of physical therapy for the pelvic floor but it’s really no different than other surgeries that involve trauma to muscles.

Physical therapists are your movement experts who can help with any dysfunction related to muscles and bones. The muscles of the pelvic floor run from our pubic bone to our tailbone and can be thought of as the supporting structure of our pelvis. These muscles help control many functions including bowel, bladder, and sexual function. If there are muscular imbalances in areas around the pelvis such as weakness in our hips or core muscles, the pelvic floor ends up having to work in overdrive. This can often cause dysfunction and lead to pain or urinary leakage.

Pelvic floor rehabilitation starts with a comprehensive examination to help determine what could be causing your symptoms. Your PT will be able to explain to you the likely cause and make recommendations going forward to help alleviate your symptoms.

Pelvic floor physical therapy is a lot more than just working on kegel exercises! Although kegels are useful, research has shown that women commonly perform kegels incorrectly. Your physical therapist will be able to give you feedback and educate on proper form with pelvic floor contractions and prescribe the right dosage for the exercise specific to you, as well as address other factors relevant to your individual symptoms.

Physical therapy can help women who are experiencing leakage, pain with intercourse, prolapse or pelvic pressure, c-section scars and diastasis recti (abdominal separation). PT can also address neck, arm, wrist pain from breast feeding, holding your baby, etc. Just because things may be common does not mean they are normal, and it’s important to know that it is never NORMAL to leak!

Your pelvic floor is a necessary muscle group for so many functions, and it deserves to be addressed from a rehab and recovery approach – just like we treat shoulders, knees, backs, necks, etc. The goal for the future of health care is involving pelvic floor physical therapists as the standard of care. Just like you see your primary care physician, your OB-GYN, you see your pelvic floor physical therapist to make sure you are getting the best and most comprehensive care.

References:

  1. Marcy Crouch, PT, DPT, CLT, WCS. PT Restorative Pelvic Physical Therapy Blog. https://www.restorativepelvicphysicaltherapy.com/

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