Pelvic Floor Training & Physical Therapy
As we get older, it can become increasingly difficult to feel as comfortable and confident in our bodies as we once were. Women may struggle with chronic hip or SI (sacroiliac joint) pain, preventing them from being able to stay active and move freely without any discomfort. Many more are bothered by involuntary urine leakage or other pelvic floor/abdominal issues that can easily make everyday life all the more stressful. At Impact Physical Therapy, we are passionate about empowering women and giving them back control of their bodies through personalized care and specialized women’s health services.
Whether you’re suffering from debilitating hip or joint pain, uncomfortable pelvic floor issues, or simply want to renew and revitalize your body, our clinical staff works closely with you to develop a completely individualized and tailored treatment plan. Our women’s health services are able to help with a variety of common concerns, including physical pain, incontinence (bladder leakage), sexual dysfunction, and pelvic pain. You don’t have to continue living with these unwelcome problems – physical therapy can help.
What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Your pelvic floor consists of the underlying muscles that form the foundation of your pelvis. It is an area of deep core musculature which plays an important part in coordinating with other core muscles to hold you up while you’re sitting, standing, lifting or carrying objects, or walking. The pelvic floor muscles also play an important part in force transfer from one leg to the other when you walk, run, dance. Of course, these pelvic floor muscles are also important for sexual function, as well as bladder and bowel function.
With age and other life factors, a woman’s pelvic floor can become weakened or damaged, leading to common yet life-altering problems such as:
- Urinary incontinence (bladder leakage)
- Painful sex
- Pelvic organ prolapse
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help to correct many of these issues by strengthening the surrounding muscles and restoring the muscles’ ability to contract and relax upon command. This means less worrying about unexpected accidents and more freedom to enjoy the things you love in life – from intimacy with your partner, to exercising without pain. This strengthening of the pelvic floor through targeted exercises will also create more support for your pelvis, hips, and lumbar spine to alleviate and prevent any stiffness or soreness when performing physical tasks.
Your Women’s Health Consultation
Prior to your treatment, you will have a private consultation with one of our licensed physical therapists to discuss your unique goals and concerns. Common goals that we have encountered with pelvic floor training include:
- Exercising, sneezing, and jumping without leaking
- Pain-free and enjoyable intercourse
- Comfortable and controlled bowel movements
- Improving strength to reduce pelvic organ prolapse
- Reducing pelvic pain in order to enjoy a hobby or sporting activity
- Urinating less frequently and/or reducing hip/pelvic/low back pain
Your therapist will then proceed to the physical evaluation in order to create an individualized approach for your physical therapy.
What to Expect with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Evaluation
A pelvic floor evaluation entails a detailed medical history and a discussion of your pelvic floor function. During this time your therapist will invite you to talk about whatever you are comfortable sharing in order to gain a good understanding of your issues and your goals.
Your evaluation may start off with an assessment of your lumbar spine, pelvis/sacroiliac joints and hips before moving on to a more detailed evaluation of your pelvic floor. Your therapist may take you through a series of flexibility, functional mobility, special tests and strength assessments of these areas.
Your pelvic floor is part of your core – important to see how efficiently it works together. Your pelvic floor evaluation generally begins with a detailed external observation of the surrounding tissues and structures followed by an internal evaluation because of the location of the pelvic floor muscles. The intention of the internal evaluation is to assess the pelvic floor tissues for mobility, tenderness, trigger points and ability of the muscles to contract and/or relax in an efficient manner.
The internal evaluation is done through either the vagina or rectum in females. You will be given a sheet or gown for draping for modesty and the therapist will be out of the room while you dress or undress, much like a regular physical exam at the doctor’s office. It is a good idea to empty your bladder before the exam and wear comfortable clothing.
Why an Internal Pelvic Floor Evaluation is Important
When treating issues with the pelvic floor, it’s important to know what might be causing problems in each specific case. Each woman’s body is unique and what might work for one patient, may not be the best solution for another based on the underlying issues. An internal pelvic floor evaluation gives important information about the state of your pelvic muscles.
We understand that not everyone is comfortable with having an internal pelvic floor evaluation on your first visit or at all. Fortunately, there are techniques, information, and education that your therapist can do and advise you about what will help your condition improve.
We understand that it is important to establish a rapport with your therapist or even to reduce pelvic pain to be able to tolerate an internal pelvic evaluation or treatment. Your physical therapist will do everything possible to reduce pain or discomfort and even embarrassment that you may have. An internal evaluation is possible while a woman is having her period, and is determined by the comfort level of the patient. Your therapist will not perform an internal evaluation during an active local infection or during pregnancy.
Physical Therapy Pelvic Floor Evaluations vs. General Health Evaluations
Physical therapy pelvic floor internal evaluations are different from pelvic or gynecologic exams performed by your medical health practitioner. We evaluate the pelvic floor muscles, joints, ligaments and fascia for tension, strength, endurance and motor control. We do not use a speculum and we are not evaluating your reproductive, urinary or intestinal systems.
Our team will allow 40 minutes per treatment in order to move intentionally and discuss what we are doing as we go. We are sensitive to any pain or discomfort you may experience or other issues you may have. Our team of experienced physical therapists are experienced in looking for what areas are painful, muscle spasms, the strength of your pelvic floor, whether you can do a good pelvic floor contraction and also whether you can release your pelvic floor.
With all the information gathered, your physical therapist will develop a treatment plan which may include further internal pelvic floor treatments, exercises to do at home and retraining activities in order to reach the goals you set.
Schedule Your Consultation
We would love to speak with you more about your own specific struggles and goals for your treatment. Impact Physical Therapy is locally owned, proudly serving men and women in Lynnwood and the North Seattle area. Our team of licensed physical therapists are dedicated to providing patients the expert-level one-on-one care they deserve. Please give our office a call at 425-778-2325 or contact us online to schedule an appointment at Impact Physical Therapy.