What is pelvic floor physiotherapy and who needs it?

In Blog by Achieve Wellness Spa

What is a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist?

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists are physical therapists with specialized training in the assessment and treatment of various conditions of the pelvic floor. They have in-depth knowledge of the anatomy of the muscles, ligaments, nerves, and connective tissue that make up the pelvic floor, and an understanding of how all of these components work together to perform the various functions required of the pelvic floor.

What is the Pelvic Floor?

Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles at the bottom of your pelvis. In addition to muscles, your pelvic floor is also made up of ligaments, nerves, and connective tissue, and it serves 5 very important functions:

  • Supports your internal organs and vaginal/rectal walls
  • Helps maintain urinary and fecal continence
  • Preserves sexual function and has a role in sexual pleasure
  • Assists in the stability of several joints in the lumbo-pelvic region
  • Serves as a “sump-pump” by working as a venous and lymphatic pump for the pelvis

Who needs a pelvic floor assessment?

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, a pelvic floor physiotherapy assessment is recommended:

  • Incontinence (urinary or fecal leakage)
  • Urinary frequency
  • Urinary urgency
  • Overactive bladder
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Bowel issues (chronic constipation, straining or pain)
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pre and post pregnancy concerns including: leakage, abdominal separation (diastasis rectus abdominus), pain, tearing or episiotomy

Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT normal to pee when you sneeze, laugh or cough! It is also not normal to experience urinary urgency or frequency, or a feeling of heaviness at the vaginal opening. You do NOT have to live with these symptoms! Pelvic floor physical therapy can help.

Is it a good idea to be assessed by a pelvic floor physical therapist after giving birth?

Yes!! Your body (and especially your pelvic floor) has just done an amazing thing, and just like any other muscle in your body, your pelvic floor needs time to heal. An assessment with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist can help identify any early concerns, and get you started on the right track in your post-partum recovery.

If you are experiencing any of the following, it is definitely a good idea to have an assessment:

  • Incontinence when you laugh, cough, sneeze, run or jump
  • Abdominal separation (diastasis rectus abdominis)
  • Pelvic pain, or painful intercourse
  • A feeling of heaviness at the opening of your vagina

Once you have been cleared by your physician at your 6 week checkup, you can book in to see a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist .

What causes pelvic floor dysfunction?

Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction can be caused by WEAK pelvic floor muscles or TIGHT pelvic floor muscles. Kegels are not always appropriate, and they are often done incorrectly. In some cases, kegels may make things worse. This is why an internal pelvic exam is essential in determining the underlying cause of your symptoms.

What will my appointment with you look like?

At your initial visit, your therapist will take a detailed history in order to help determine the cause of your symptoms. Then, with your informed consent, your therapist will perform an internal vaginal and/or rectal exam.

This is done in order to get an idea of the overall global strength, tone, and tenderness of the pelvic floor. Your therapist will then discuss an appropriate treatment plan with you, which may include any of the following:

  • Ongoing education
  • Manual therapy techniques
  • Exercise
  • Relaxation and breathing techniques
  • Use of treatment modalities when appropriate
  • In the case of persistent pain, re-training of the brain and nervous system.

What does the research say?

Not only is a visit with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist a good idea, but the best evidence backs it up as well:

“The 2010 Cochrane Collaboration concluded that physiotherapists with specialized training in pelvic floor rehabilitation should be the first line of defence, before surgical consultation, for stress, urge and mixed incontinence in women.”

How do I book my appointment?

You can book with Kristin, our Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, by giving us a call at 780-750-3391. She is available at our uptown location on Thursday afternoons for Women’s Pelvic Health assessment and treatment. If you have any questions or are unsure if physiotherapy can help, give us a call, we’d be happy to discuss!