Pelvic floor therapy solves pelvic floor muscle pain, weakness, and dysfunctions. When the pelvic muscles function well, blood flow to the connective and muscle tissues is optimum and helps greatly with the ability of a person to mobilize.
The ultimate aim of pelvic floor therapy is to restore higher levels of movement, mobility, and normal healthy functioning. For pain and discomfort cases, the pelvic floor therapy clinic’s goal is to identify muscle trigger points and tight connective tissues that may be the root cause of the problem.
Medical practitioners have given regard to pelvic floor therapies as an effective, non-invasive means or approach to improve pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms for decades. In some pelvic floor therapy clinics, practitioners have incorporated various non-surgical, painless treatment modalities to retrain the functioning of the pelvic floor muscles. These approaches help in controlling bladder and bowel movements, and sexual functioning. When pelvic floor muscle strengthening and relaxation are achieved or learned, it not only improves the functioning of the pelvic organs but it often decreases the pain or discomfort experienced by the patients.
During pelvic floor therapy sessions, resident therapists teach patients to exercise to stabilize and strengthen their core, or the major muscles that steady the trunk, like the pelvic floor muscles, abdominal and back muscles, and the diaphragm. Pelvic floor therapies also entail re-training and strengthening the patient’s pelvic floor muscles.
The pelvic floor therapist will identify the specific muscles that are overly tight and teach the patient exercises to stretch the affected muscles to help in improving coordination and mobility. During the pelvic floor therapy sessions, they will also teach and have patients perform a postural exercises, techniques on relaxation, and breathing techniques like diaphragmatic breathing. All of these can greatly improve symptoms and the overall health and sense of well-being of the patient.
A patient’s specific pelvic floor therapy modalities recommendations will depend on the symptoms the patient is experiencing. To lessen the intensity of symptoms, sometimes the therapist needs to relax and lengthen pelvic floor muscles, while at other times, the symptoms manifested by the patient need muscle strengthening.
The resident therapist of a pelvic floor therapy clinic should also work with the patient on his or her behavioral modifications as it will relieve symptoms and the quality of life of the patient immensely.
Importance of Pelvic Floor Therapy Treatments
For both males and females, the pelvic floor consists of muscle layers that span from the pubic bone to the tailbone. The urinary bladder, bowel, and prostate in men and the vagina and uterus in women are supported by the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues.
Additionally, for both men and women, the pelvic floor muscles regulate control of the bladder and bowel functioning and play a big factor in sexual functioning and pleasure as well. For pregnant women, the pelvic floor muscles provide an anchor for the fetus and therefore normally relax during the natural birthing process.
The pelvic floor muscles perform their functions by alternately either contracting or relaxing to regulate bowel and bladder functions. For example, the pelvic floor muscles need to contract to avoid incontinence and relax to enable urine and feces to pass through. Dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles can be experienced by individuals when their muscles are either contracting too strongly or too weakly. This abnormal phenomenon contributes to the symptoms felt like incontinence, constipation, painful intercourse, lower back pains, and pain in the pelvic, genital, or rectum areas. Trauma to the pelvic floor can also be causative of pain and dysfunctions. The pelvic floor trauma can be because of surgery, childbirth, some medical procedures, or previous history of physical trauma or abuse.
Expectations from First Pelvic Floor Therapy Sessions
It can be easily understood why pelvic floor dysfunctions needing pelvic floor therapy can be highly personal and patients may feel nervous and fearful about what to expect. It can be reassuring to know that almost if not all, pelvic floor therapists are compassionate, and highly trained when it comes to working with pelvic conditions professionally. The therapist from a clinic providing quality pelvic floor therapies should take time to answer patients’ questions and thoroughly explain each step to lessen apprehension.
During the first appointment, the pelvic floor therapy practitioner will perform a comprehensive assessment to formulate the most effective treatment plan for a patient’s condition.
Pelvic floor therapy aims to restore the patient’s pelvic floor muscle movement and mobility as well as reduce any pain experienced. During the examination, the physical therapist will assess the patient’s posture, strength, the flexibility of the spine, hip, and abdominal muscles, and breathing patterns, to pinpoint contributing factors.
The goal of the first session of pelvic floor therapy is to determine the probable cause/s of pelvic floor dysfunction. Patients should provide as much information as they can to their therapist about their symptoms so that a quick diagnosis can be achieved. Patients are encouraged to bring detailed notes about their symptoms, including any factors that worsen or relieve the pain.
During the first visit for pelvic floor therapy, the therapist may ask patients to move around to assess certain functions, thus, dressing comfortably is advised. Throughout all the pelvic floor therapy sessions, patients are encouraged to ask questions and give feedback.
The initial assessment of a practitioner in a pelvic floor therapy clinic can include the following:
- A thorough runthrough of the patient’s medical background
- A detailed evaluation of the symptoms
- Evaluation of the areas that are dysfunctional, painful, or tight
- A complete physical examination
During the examination on the first visits, patients will be asked to stand, walk, and sit for the therapist to pinpoint potential issues in posture or joint integrity affecting the pelvic floor muscles. Therapists need to also evaluate whether a bone or muscle in the lower back, hips, buttocks, or thighs is the problem and is placing undue stress on the pelvic muscles.
The pelvic floor therapy practitioner and therapists also need to do a physical examination. The physical examination may in some cases include an internal exam. The therapists in a credible pelvic floor therapy clinic should have received specialized training in pelvic floor dysfunction handling. They should understand that patients may feel uncomfortable about the process, and so they should perform each step unhurriedly and knowingly. This direct effort can give valuable input in identifying which muscle and strength-related factors are causing the patient discomfort or dysfunction.
The physical therapist must go on slowly and explain each step of the exam to lessen apprehension. Patients are welcome to ask for a pause anytime during the examination and are encouraged to ask questions throughout.