Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
Do you struggle with pelvic pain? Incontinence or frequent urination? Do you have to wear protection during the day for leakage? Do you experience pain with urination or pain with sexual intercourse? Have you recently had a baby or surgery? Pelvic floor physical therapy can evaluate and appropriately treat pelvic floor conditions.
The pelvic floor consists of several muscles layered in the shape of a hammock stretching from the pubic bone to coccyx and side to side at the hips. These muscles are crucial for helping support and sling the bladder. Envision holding a water balloon in your cupped hands, as water is added to the balloon it becomes increasingly difficult to hold it, eventually you will want to relax your hands. This is very similar to the pelvic floor muscles holding and supporting your bladder. If the muscles are not working properly, urinary dysfunction may occur. A typical healthy adult bladder capacity is 16 ounces, that is just 2 cups (or one water bottle) of fluid, with healthy urine output averaging every 3-4 hours, or 6-8 times in a 24-hour time period. It is advised that clear liquid intake should be calculated as half your body weight in ounces. There are also varying foods and medications that can irritate the bladder, making you want to frequent the bathroom more often.
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a valid option for everyone of all ages and genders. Pelvic floor muscles are treated like any other muscle in the body. They can be massaged when tight or painful, and they can be strengthened, through Kegel’s, when weak. However, these muscles don’t act alone. Treatment often consists of incorporating core muscles and proper diaphragmatic breathing techniques (since diaphragm movement is directly correlated with the pelvic floor muscles). Slow, rhythmic contraction of pelvic floor muscles in conjunction with core activation and proper breathing techniques can help treat varying conditions associated with the pelvic floor.
What to expect from a typical physical therapy session for pelvic floor conditions … Proper assessment, in a private treatment room, including history (getting to know you) and objective measures (movement of back/hips, external and internal muscle assessment, if comfortable; strength testing; range of motion / flexibility). Objective findings will be discussed and then a plan of care will be established. Treatments may include manual techniques, use of biofeedback, modalities, muscle re-training for strengthening and/or endurance, and exercises with appropriate activation of pelvic floor muscles and core stabilization techniques. An individualized at home exercise program will also be established. In preparation, you may be asked to track your bladder/voiding for three consecutive days to properly assess your needs. Sessions are typically scheduled once a week (more if needed), lasting 30-60 minutes in duration, over an average of four to six weeks (give or take depending on diagnosis).
Remember, you are not alone … nearly 25% of the population will struggle with some sort of pelvic floor condition in their lifetime.
Please feel free to reach out to your All In Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist for more information regarding assessment and proper treatment of your pelvic floor needs!