Pregnancy changes a woman’s body in many ways she can’t anticipate. The release of pregnancy hormones can make it even more difficult for women to exert bowel and bladder control leading to urinary or other types of incontinence.
To avoid this urinary “inconvenience”, doctors may prescribe pelvic floor physical therapy. This practice is designed to help women strengthen the pelvic floor either during or after pregnancy. That said, women who are not pregnant but who experience even occasional leaks or have difficulty holding back gas also find pelvic floor therapy helpful.
Pelvic floor physical therapy in a first-line treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction, and, in the state of Georgia, no referral is needed to get started.
What Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
This type of physical therapy addresses the muscles, connective tissues and bony alignment in the pelvis. Your pelvic PT will help you strengthen weak muscles with pelvic floor and core exercises. Or, if you are experiencing loss of control from overly tense muscles, your program will focus on releasing built-up tension before strengthening. Either tight or weak muscles can limit sexual function, cause pain and make it more difficult for a person to control bathroom functions.
When Might You Need Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
If you’ve not yet visited a doctor, but feel as though you have less control over your bladder and bowels than you should, you may have pelvic floor dysfunction. Keep an eye out for some of the other following symptoms before requesting further examination:
- Urinary incontinence.
- Fecal incontinence.
- Frequent urination during the day or night (whether pregnant or not).
- Frequent, loose bowel movements.
- Painful urination.
- Pelvic pain.
- Genital pain.
- Pain during intercourse
- Tailbone pain
- Abdominal/pelvic heaviness
- Pain with sitting
While these symptoms may also be indicative of other medical conditions like interstitial cystitis (IC), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease or endometriosis, they are often symptoms of a weak or overactive pelvic floor. Partner these symptoms with pregnancy, and doctors will be quick to recommend that a woman engages in at-home or in-office pelvic floor physical therapy.
What Does Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Entail?
Pelvic floor physical therapy is hands-on and may include an internal (either vaginal or rectal) evaluation of the muscles. Make sure you’re working with a therapist you trust before getting started.
Internal pelvic floor physical therapy treatment frequently consists of trigger point therapy, biofeedback or other manual techniques to improve muscle function. Trigger point therapy is the use of pressure directly on a tight band of muscle or connective tissue that leads to relaxation. Biofeedback therapy can be done with a biofeedback device, mirror or even by simply placing a hand at the opening of the vagina or anus.
External pelvic floor therapies may include:
- Nerve mobilization
- External trigger point therapy.
- Myofascial release (deep tissue massage).
- Skin rolling.
- Joint mobilization.
- Many others!
While Kegel exercises are not part of every pelvic floor muscle exercise program, your doctor may recommend them. Practicing Kegel exercises will help you regain strength in your pelvic floor. Make sure your attending physician or physical therapist teaches you the proper way to conduct Kegel exercises, so you don’t further damage your muscles.
Weak pelvic floor muscle dysfunction is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and want to get help, talk to your doctor. Pelvic floor physical therapy may help you regain control over more than just your bladder and bowels – it’ll help you take back control of your life.
To learn more about the pelvic floor physical therapy offered at Provenance Rehab, call or contact our office today.