What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Pelvic floor physical therapy involves the pelvic floor muscle group, which is responsible for a variety of functions. These muscles support the pelvic organs, assist in bowel and bladder control, and contribute to sexual arousal and orgasm. A person may be referred to pelvic floor physical therapy to treat incontinence, difficulty with urination or bowel movements, constipation, chronic pelvic pain, and painful intercourse.
Pelvic conditions treated include:
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse Urinary Incontinence
- Fecal Incontinence
- Pudendal Neuralgia Sexual Dysfunction
- Pain Pre and Post Partum
- Orthopedic issues in pregnancy
- Male and Female Pelvic Pain
- Pre and post surgical pelvic floor care
- Pelvic floor dysfunction in athletes
Pelvic floor physical therapists might use several techniques:
- Education: Patients may need to learn more about their pelvic anatomy and how different components work alone and together. They may also need to learn how habits or hygiene affect their symptoms.
- Pelvic floor exercises: Patients are taught how to contract and relax pelvic floor muscles in relation to other muscles. They are also taught breathing and timing techniques to make the exercises more effective. Such exercises can stretch tight muscles, strengthen weak ones, and improve flexibility.
- Manual therapy: A physical therapist may use hands-on massage or stretching to help with posture, blood circulation, and mobility.
- Pelvic floor biofeedback: Biofeedback is a technique that can help patients “see” how the pelvic floor muscles are working. To do this, a probe is inserted into a woman’s vagina or a man’s anus and results are displayed on a computer screen.
- Home exercise program
- Bladder/bowel diary
- Relaxation techniques
- Myofascial/Scar tissue release
What to Expect
Your therapist will evaluate your medical history, postural, voiding and dietary habits. Examination of muscle function and coordination of the abdomino-pelvic region will be performed. Pelvic ﬂoor muscles may be manually examined internally and externally.
Pelvic ﬂoor disorders encompass abnormalities of urination, defecation, sexual function, pelvic organ prolapse, and chronic pain. Current guidelines recommend behavioral modiﬁcations and conservative therapy as ﬁrst-line therapy for pelvic ﬂoor disorders.
There is international consensus that pelvic floor physical therapy should be the first line of defense for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence mixed urinary incontinence, and for some symptoms of urge urinary incontinence.