A pelvic physical therapist is a licensed physical therapist specializing in rehabilitating the muscles, joints, nerves, and organs in your pelvis.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help relieve pain and difficulty with urination, bowel movement, constipation, incontinence, and sexual dysfunction (such as painful intercourse). It can also be used preventively to keep you healthy.
What is a pelvic physical therapist’s role?
Pelvic physical therapists are specially trained to help women and men with pelvic floor issues. These issues include pain, urinary incontinence, bowel problems, and sexual dysfunction.
A pelvic physical therapist assesses and treats your condition through hands-on therapies, exercise, manual techniques, and movement coordination. These treatments often incorporate biofeedback — using small, painless electrodes to measure muscle movement.
Evaluations are individualized and based on your specific concerns and goals. Your therapist will explain your evaluation and treatment options and answer any questions you may have.
The most common therapy for pelvic pain includes strengthening exercises. These are designed to lengthen muscles that support your bladder, bowel, and uterus. Your therapist will teach you how to perform these exercises safely and effectively, which is important because these muscles are delicate and can become shortened.
Another commonly used therapy is Kegel exercises. These are performed by squeezing your abdomen and back. These are done gently and while breathing out. They are a vital part of the rehabilitation process and a great tool for self-care, especially if you’re not regularly doing them.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, it is essential to seek care as soon as possible. This can prevent complications or worsening symptoms. It also can give you control over your condition and improve your quality of life.
What is a pelvic physical therapist?
A pelvic physical therapist is a highly trained professional who specializes in treating women and men with problems related to the pelvic area’s muscles, nerves, and connective tissues. In addition, they can evaluate and treat various painful or embarrassing conditions through postgraduate education and certification.
Pelvic pain and incontinence are the most common reasons people seek physical therapy. Still, there are many other conditions that this specialized form of treatment can help. For example, a pelvic physical therapist can help you build your pelvic floor strength and reduce or eliminate symptoms such as urinary incontinence, bowel dysfunction, sexual intercourse pain, and more.
To begin a pelvic physical therapy session, your therapist will perform an internal exam and review your medical history. During this exam, the therapist will insert a finger into your vagina or rectum to examine your pelvic floor muscle strength.
When the therapist feels the muscles are tight or weak, they can do exercises to stretch them out. They may also use resistance to increase muscle strength and improve function.
In addition to these manual techniques, your therapist may use electronic therapies to enhance the effectiveness of your treatment. These include electrical stimulation devices that deliver a mild, painless electric impulse through electrodes placed on your skin or vaginally. These devices can be used in the office or at home.
How do pelvic physical therapists help?
Pelvic physical therapy helps you restore your pelvic floor strength and function. This area stabilizes your hips and lower body and is essential for maintaining bowel and bladder control.
When your pelvic floor muscles are weak, they may cause problems in other areas of your body, such as your back or abdomen. Pelvic pain is one of the most common reasons people seek out physical therapy.
You can get a referral for pelvic physical therapy from your primary care provider, OB-GYN, urologist, or urogynecologist. If you’re experiencing urinary incontinence, constipation, or painful intercourse, you should seek a therapist as soon as possible to start treatment.
Your therapist will begin by asking you to describe your symptoms and complaints. Next, you’ll take part in a pelvic physical exam. The therapist will assess your lumbar spine, sacroiliac joints, and pelvic muscles using an external exam and an internal evaluation with gloved fingers and lubricant.
A therapist can also perform trigger point therapy to help relieve pain and tightness in your pelvic floor. This is done by inserting a finger through the rectum or vagina and applying pressure to specific points that feel tight.
An excellent pelvic physical therapist will also evaluate your overall health and lifestyle. They will teach you how your habits and diet affect your pelvic pain and dysfunction, helping you make healthy choices that reduce your risk of future issues.
What is a pelvic physical therapist’s treatment plan?
Pelvic physical therapy focuses on the muscles, bones, and connective tissue that support your bladder, bowels, uterus, and rectum. This specialized therapy helps you control your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Both women and men have a pelvic floor, a sling of muscles supporting the bladder, uterus, and rectum. The pelvic floor also keeps the urethra in place, essential for bladder control.
Your therapist will assess your symptoms and make a treatment plan that fits your needs. Next, they may ask you to do specific exercises or positions to check how well your pelvic floor muscles coordinate with other muscles in your body.
If they find that you have tight or weak pelvic muscles, your therapist will recommend a series of exercises to strengthen those muscles and reduce pain. They may also use trigger point therapy to target pain-causing trigger points in their muscles.
They may use hands-on massage and stretching techniques to improve blood circulation, mobility, and posture. They can also use biofeedback to measure the contraction and relaxation of your pelvic muscles and show you how they change when you do specific exercises.
The most common pelvic physical therapy treatment is to help you increase your bladder control and bowel function. It also helps relieve symptoms like pain, sex problems, and incontinence.