Despite all the tests and scans, many women can’t pinpoint the cause of their pelvic pain. Sometimes it’s misdiagnosed as various gynecological conditions or dismissed as “unexplained pain.” Problems with the pelvic floor muscles, called myofascial pelvic pain, are associated with around 20% of chronic pelvic pain and more than 75% of bladder pain syndrome. Unfortunately, this cause often goes unidentified. Gynecologists often focus on organs, not muscles when diagnosing pelvic issues. Physical therapists can help address the underlying problems using pelvic floor physical therapy.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a set of muscles that run from the pubic bone to the tailbone. This “hammock” supports the bladder, bowel, rectum, and uterus. These muscles are essential to elimination control and sexual functioning.
What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Throughout the lifespan, women can experience pelvic floor dysfunction in the form of symptoms such as urgency, frequency, leaking/incontinence, sexual symptoms such as pain with sex, thinning of vaginal tissue during and post menopause, and bowel symptoms such as constipation, urgency, rectal pain, and incontinence. The musculoskeletal components of these dysfunctions can be addressed by a pelvic health PT specialist.
If you are experiencing pelvic pain, a specially trained PT can design individualized treatment for myofascial pelvic pain. The therapy involves internal and external manipulation of the pelvic floor muscle. While some women may find these methods awkward, a well-trained PT creates a trusting rapport and relaxing atmosphere to help clients feel at ease.
What to Expect
The first step is learning about the client’s history. The PT and client will have a conversation about medical issues, medications, and sexual/gynecological history. Next, the PT will do an orthopedic evaluation to look at the lumbar, hips, gait, and posture to look for joint issues that could impact the pelvic muscles. An internal pelvic exam can also help determine the best course of action. However, PTs are always sensitive to individual needs and won’t start internal techniques until the client is ready. Each treatment plan is designed to meet the client’s specific goals, such as reconditioning the muscles, improving sexual function, and alleviating pain. Treatments may include:
- Manual internal and external manipulation
- Exercises for conditioning, stretching, and relaxation
- Biofeedback for muscle strengthening
- Education in self-management
- Ice, heat, or electrical stimulation
When to Ask for Help
Chronic pelvic pain is when discomfort below the navel and between the hips persists for six months or longer. The pain may be severe or dull, steady or intermittent. Women may experience sharp cramps or deep pressure. Other times, women have pain during intercourse, while using the toilet, or after sitting or standing for a long time. It may be challenging to know when to seek medical attention. Contact your doctor if the pain lasts six months or longer, disrupts daily life or seems to be getting worse. A medical professional can help diagnose the problem and work with the patient to develop treatments, including medications and pelvic floor physical therapy.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy at COR
At Churchill Orthopedic Rehabilitation, we care strongly about women’s health conditions. Our doctorate-level female PTs are here to help with issues such as diastasis recti, urinary incontinence and urgency, pregnancy, post-partum, c-section scar restrictions, and painful penetration. If you are suffering from chronic pelvic floor pain or any other women’s health condition, schedule an appointment online today.