I love when I get the questions, “What is pelvic floor physical therapy?” Or “I have no clue why my doctor sent me here.” Or “What type of physical therapy is this?”
Well, good question! I have discovered that one of my passions is spreading awareness for pelvic floor health and the benefits that pelvic floor physical therapy can provide. Pelvic floor physical therapy has been around for a while (recognized by the American Physical Therapy Association since 1995); however, there is much more education needed for our society.
In France and other European countries women receive an automatic referral to pelvic floor physical therapy after childbirth in order to ensure the correct muscle activation of the pelvic floor and inner core. Also, this helps to prevent future incidence of urinary or fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, pain with intercourse, closing any abdominal separation, and safely getting back to your activities and exercise routine after childbirth. (stay tuned for future blog post on this topic)
There is still much more to pelvic floor physical therapy: pelvic pain, incontinence, male pelvic pain, muscle spasms, cancer recovery, vulvodynia, constipation, IC, pelvic organ prolapse…. the list goes on. Basically, anything you are embarrassed to talk about- I talk about. SO speak up! Ask your doctor about your pelvic floor after pregnancy! Ask your doctor about your pelvic pain! (And if they are not sure what to tell you or what to do with you….Ask about pelvic floor physical therapy!) Or ask me!
What you can expect at your initial evaluation during pelvic floor physical therapy:
1. Subjective history/Interview: Thorough inquiry about what brought you to PT and how it is affecting your life. Past medical history. Goals for PT.
2. Physical Assessment/ Pelvic floor muscle assessment: Posture and structural assessment for proper alignment. Palpation (feeling) the muscles around the pelvis to assess for tone, trigger points, and proper muscle activation and yes the actual pelvic floor!
Soooo how do I assess the pelvic floor? What you are thinking is exactly right…. Your pelvic floor is internal. Therefore, specialized pelvic floor physical therapists perform an internal muscle assessment. We check the pelvic floor muscles for the same thing: tone, trigger points, proper muscle activation and proper relaxation. It really is an educational experience for the patient! There is no speculum for the ladies – so it is not like a gynecologic exam- only focused on what your internal muscles are doing. If this makes any patient uncomfortable or unsure; we can always do other treatment techniques that are not internal.
3. Homework: After the assessment is done, explanation of all the findings will be reviewed with the patient and homework (home exercise program) is given in order for you to work on your pelvic floor at home. Then we come up with a game plan together for your rehab journey.
4. Happy Happy Happy: Leave with a better sense of your body and ways that you will be helped!
See, not too bad! I love my job and educating people on this subject. Let me know if you have questions or would like to know if physical therapy can help you. I can help you find the right rehab practitioner or healthcare provider, as well.