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Can pelvic health be improved with physical therapy?

Women’s pelvic health is often overlooked by many health care providers. Even if women’s pelvic health concerns are addressed, medication is often offered as the first line of treatment. However, there are other treatment options available. 

Pelvic health can be improved through physical therapy. Physical therapy can help you reduce tension and strengthen your pelvic floor — the root cause of many pelvic health concerns. In fact, a review of patients with pelvic pain found that 63% of patients saw significant pain improvement after pelvic floor physical therapy. Continue reading to learn more about how pelvic health can be improved with physical therapy.

What pelvic health issues can be treated with physical therapy?

When used to improve pelvic health, physical therapy typically focuses on the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles are located between the tailbone and the pubic bone. They are responsible for supporting the bowel and the bladder. In women, the pelvic floor muscles also support the uterus and vagina. Tension and weakness in your pelvic floor muscles can cause a variety of symptoms, such as:

  • Pelvic pain.
  • Constipation.
  • Incontinence.
  • Painful intercourse.

These symptoms can also be tied to long-lasting conditions and pelvic health issues. Some potential causes of chronic pelvic pain and other symptoms include:

  • Pelvic floor dysfunction.
  • Endometriosis.
  • Overactive bladder.
  • Uterine prolapse.
  • Menopause.

You may also experience pelvic pain or incontinence after giving birth.

Whether your pelvic health concerns are acute or chronic, physical therapy can help reduce your pelvic pain, discomfort, incontinence and other symptoms. To accomplish this, a physical therapist will use a variety of techniques to help you relax and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

How can physical therapy improve pelvic health?

  • Pelvic floor training — A physical therapist may introduce you to pelvic floor muscle training exercises as part of your treatment plan. These exercises focus on strengthening the muscles of your pelvic floor. Pelvic floor training is often described as feeling like you are pretending to urinate and then holding it. This is because these exercises involve you relaxing and tightening the muscles that control urine flow. Pelvic floor training is especially helpful for individuals struggling with incontinence or overactive bladder.
  • Biofeedback — If you have trouble identifying your pelvic floor muscles, biofeedback can help. During biofeedback, a physical therapist will apply sensors to the pelvic floor. These special sensors capture muscle activity. This data is then displayed on a monitor in order to provide you with a visual representation of your muscle activity. This information can help you improve your awareness of your pelvic floor. Biofeedback is often used to support pelvic floor muscle training exercises.
  • Manual therapy — Manual therapy is a hands-on technique where a physical therapist moves and manipulates the soft tissue in the affected area. For pelvic health issues, this physical therapy technique is used to release tension in the pelvic floor. Releasing tension can help reduce chronic pelvic pain and muscle spasms. It can also increase the effectiveness of pelvic floor exercises. Strengthening a tense pelvic floor muscle can end up causing more pain and discomfort. By first releasing tension through manual therapy, pelvic floor training exercises are more likely to improve your pelvic health.
  • Dry needling — Dry needling is another physical therapy technique that can be used to reduce pain and release tension in the pelvic area. A physical therapist will insert thin, sharp needles through your skin and into “trigger” points in the muscle. Trigger points are knotted, tender areas that develop in your muscles. These trigger points are often painful when touched or can cause pain in other areas of the body. Dry needling helps decrease tightness, increase blood flow and reduce pain caused by trigger points. 
  • Electrical stimulation — Sometimes physical therapists will target specific points of pain using a medical instrument called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). A physical therapist will apply electrode pads around your pelvic area. These electrodes deliver small electrical impulses to your sensory nerves. This stimulates your body’s natural pain relief responses. As such, your physical therapist may use TENS to help reduce pelvic pain and discomfort.

Think your pelvic health could benefit from physical therapy? Back in Motion is here to help

Your pelvic health deserves to be prioritized. Our team of Back in Motion physical therapists are prepared to help you address your pelvic health concerns. During your first visit, your physical therapist will conduct a one-on-one evaluation to assess your current symptoms. Then, they will design a treatment plan tailored to you. Together, we can help improve your pelvic health through specialized physical therapy.
Contact one of our front desk coordinators to schedule your free 15-minute screening to determine if your pelvic health could be improved by physical therapy.

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