Pelvic floor physical therapy is a specialized form of physical therapy that focuses on the muscles, ligaments, and tissues that make up the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles located in the lower part of the pelvis, and it plays an important role in various bodily functions, including supporting the pelvic organs, maintaining bowel and bladder control, and sexual function.
Pelvic floor physical therapy is typically provided by trained physical therapists who have expertise in assessing and treating pelvic floor dysfunction. This type of therapy is often recommended for both women and men who experience pelvic floor disorders or related issues, such as:
Pelvic pain: Physical therapy can help address pain in the pelvic region, including conditions like pelvic floor muscle spasm, vulvodynia, vaginismus, and pain associated with endometriosis or pelvic surgery.
Urinary incontinence: Pelvic floor exercises and techniques can assist in improving bladder control and reducing episodes of urinary leakage.
Fecal incontinence: Pelvic floor physical therapy involves exercises and strategies to enhance bowel control and manage bowel leakage.
Prenatal and postpartum care: Physical therapy can aid in the preparation for childbirth and recovery after delivery, addressing issues like diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles) and pelvic pain.
Pelvic organ prolapse: This therapy can assist in managing pelvic organ prolapse, a condition where the pelvic organs descend or bulge into the vaginal area.
During a pelvic floor physical therapy session, the therapist may perform a comprehensive evaluation to assess the strength, coordination, and flexibility of the pelvic floor muscles. Based on the evaluation, they develop an individualized treatment plan that may include various techniques, such as:
Pelvic floor exercises: These exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles to strengthen and improve their function. This may or may not be part of the program - pelvic floor PT is much more than just Kegels!
Manual therapy: The therapist may use hands-on techniques to release tension or improve muscle function in the pelvic floor.
Exercises for the surrounding areas: The pelvic floor works closely with the hips, core, legs, and even feet! A comprehensive physical therapy treatment over time includes assessment and treatment for more than just the pelvic floor.
Relaxation techniques: Learning relaxation strategies can be beneficial for individuals with pelvic pain or muscle tension.
Education and lifestyle modifications: Therapists often provide guidance on proper body mechanics, posture, and other lifestyle modifications that can support pelvic floor health.
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a non-invasive and conservative approach to managing pelvic floor disorders, and it can be highly effective in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life for individuals experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction.