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Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?

Pelvic floor physical therapy is a specialized area of physical therapy that treats a range of problems associated with dysfunctions of the pelvic floor. Similar to the low back or extremity joints, the muscles of the pelvic floor may need rehabilitation following an acute or chronic musculoskeletal injury or medical condition. The primary difference, however, is that due to their internal location, assessment and treatment of these muscles are performed directly via the vagina or rectum.

At Core Physical Therapy, patient comfort and privacy is a priority! All pelvic floor treatment sessions are conducted in a private, dedicated treatment room, one-on-one, with a physical therapist who has undergone specialized training to treat this area of the body.

What are the pelvic floor muscles?

The pelvic floor muscles are a layer of muscles that span the bottom of the bony pelvis from front to back (pubic bone to coccyx/tailbone) and side to side (“sitting bones”). They have been likened to a “muscular trampoline” or “hammock” that functions to support the pelvic organs (e.g., bladder, bowel, and uterus) that sit on top of it. Within this muscle layer are “openings” that allow for passage of the urethra, vagina, and anus.

Similar to the arm or leg muscles, the pelvic floor muscles can be voluntarily contracted (that is, consciously controlled). The significance of this will be discussed next.

What are the functions of the pelvic floor muscles?

  • They provide support to the pelvic organs.
  • They help to maintain bladder and bowel continence – that is, they enable voluntary control over the release of urine, feces, and flatus.
  • They play an important role in sexual function.
  • They support the baby during pregnancy and assist in the birthing process.
  • They work in coordination with the abdominal and back muscles to help stabilize the spine and pelvis.

What are some factors that can compromise the pelvic floor muscles? (This list cites only a few examples)

  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Surgery
  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Chronic medical conditions

What are some symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction?

Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include, but are not limited to, bowel and bladder problems; pain with intercourse; and pain in the pelvis, perineum, vagina, or rectum.

How is pelvic floor dysfunction treated?

Depending on symptoms and the individual patient’s needs, a variety of specialized treatment techniques/procedures may be utilized, including (but not limited to):

Computer-assisted biofeedback
Targeted pelvic floor exercises
Posture, breathing, and relaxation training
Internal and external stretch/release techniques
Manual therapy
Patient education
Bladder training

References:
“Physical Therapy for Your Lady Parts” Corrie Pikul

“Beyond Kegels: When do gynecologic problems call for physical therapy?” Sara B. Cichowski, MD, Rebecca G. Rogers MD

“Pelvic Floor Muscles” Continence Foundation of Australia