A pelvic floor is a bowl-shaped group of muscles that supports the bladder, bowel, uterus, and rectum. When the pelvic floor muscles tighten too much, you can end up getting pelvic pain.
The exact cause for this muscle tightness is not yet clear. Identified by a detailed internal examination, pelvic pain is often underdiagnosed or overlooked by doctors.
Pelvic pain can affect men and women of all ages. Pelvic pain can result in incontinence, difficulty in bowel movements, constipation, and painful intercourse.
Besides medications, an alternative for patients to deal with pelvic pain is undergoing pelvic floor physical therapy.
Helps InConducted by specialists called pelvic floor therapists, pelvic floor physical therapy helps in the treatment of endometriosis or vaginismus in women.
Male disorders like premature ejaculation and painful ejaculation are also addressed by this type of pelvic floor physical therapy.
Techniques UsedThere is no fixed technique when it comes to pelvic floor physical therapy.
Based on the severity of symptoms, the therapists might use the techniques mentioned below:
EducationPelvic floor therapists educate the patients about the pelvic anatomy and the way each component works.
The therapists also teach the patient about hygiene and habits that can affect their symptoms.
Manual therapyThe pelvic floor therapists may use stretching or hands-on massage to help with mobility, blood circulation, and posture.
Pelvic floor exercisesHere, the therapists teach the patients how to contract as well as relax pelvic floor muscles.
Patients are taught different timing and breathing techniques to make these exercises more effective.
Pelvic floor exercises help in improving flexibility, stretching the tight muscles, and strengthening weak muscles.
Pelvic floor biofeedbackBiofeedback helps a patient see how pelvic floor muscles work.
Therapists pass a probe into a vagina or anus, and the images are displayed on a computer screen.
Electrical stimulationSometimes, pelvic floor therapists may use an electric current(low voltage) to train the patients to better coordinate muscle contractions.
Vaginbal dilatorsVaginal dilators are tube-shaped plastic devices used by therapists to help women learn to relax their pelvic muscles which will allow in easier penetration.
Gynecological cancer patients may also find dilators useful in vaginal rehabilitation after the successful completion of their treatment.
Benefits of Pelvic Floor Physical TherapySome of the benefits of undergoing pelvic floor physical therapy include:
Postpartum CarePelvic floor therapy is beneficial for women who have recently delivered.
The pressure generated on the muscles while vaginally delivering the child can result in stretching or even tearing of the pelvic muscles, leading to their weakness.
This causes the pelvic muscles, holding the bladder and uterus, to soften and sink. Pelvic floor physical therapy helps in tightening and lifting these muscles.
Post-Abdominal SurgeryPelvic floor therapy is beneficial to those who have undergone pelvic surgery.
When the pelvic muscles are cut, it takes them some time to grow back and regain their strength. Healing can also involve the development of scar tissues and problems with flexibility.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help patients address these issues. This therapy is also a good choice for patients who have undergone colorectal surgery, episiotomy, C-section, or hysterectomy.
IncontinenceAs you age, you start noticing some issues with your bladder.
Provided this is part of a normal aging process, you can choose pelvic therapy instead of an incontinence pad.
This therapy helps in strengthening and lifting your pelvic muscles, which provides better support to the bladder.
Other conditionsYou can also undergo pelvic floor physical therapy for various other concerns such as:
- Pelvic pain
- Nerve damage
In ConclusionPelvic floor physical therapy is a wonderful option for treating conditions relating to pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can either be done on its own or as a part of a treatment protocol that involves primary care physicians, mental health professionals, and sex therapists.