Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Pelvic floor rehabilitation is a unique specialty in physical therapy. The pelvic floor consists of a group of muscles, fascia, and ligaments that make up the base of the pelvis. Their primary function is to provide support to the internal organs and the spine. They also assist in bladder and bowel control. The pelvic floor, trunk, abdominals, and breathing muscles work together as a coordinated, functional unit.
Patients with abnormalities in the pelvic floor can present a host of impairments and symptoms including:
- Pelvic pain related to bowel or urinary function
- Inability to control urinary flow
- Inability to control bowel movements
- Pain during internal examination or intercourse
- Tailbone pain
- Pregnancy related pain or instability
- Post-pregnancy related pain or instability
- Decreased activity tolerance related to pelvic, low back, or abdominal discomfort or muscle weakness
- Post-surgery pelvic pain or complications
- Pelvic organ prolapse
Weakness of the pelvic musculature, abdominals, trunk muscles, or breathing muscles can result in bladder or bowel incontinence, organ prolapse, and lower back pain. Excessive tightness and overuse of the pelvic floor muscles can lead to constipation, tailbone pain, painful intercourse, or vaginal/rectal pain. In addition, nerve compressions in the pelvis can occur with tight pelvic floor muscles, creating pain that radiates into the anal, perineal, groin, and buttock regions. These conditions can affect both men and women.
Physical therapists with specialized training in pelvic floor rehabilitation can effectively treat many of these disorders. Manual therapy skills including soft tissue mobilization, myofascial release, and visceral mobilization can improve painful conditions (examples-constipation or pelvic pain). Specific instruction in stretching and relaxation exercises can also be helpful.
Biofeedback is an effective tool used to aid in pelvic floor rehabilitation. Small sensors are placed on the perineum and can pick up pelvic muscle activity and relay it to a computer. A visual display of this muscle activity can allow patients to see how these internal muscles contract and relax, providing assistance in appropriate strengthening and conditioning of them. Also, for individuals suffering from constipation, biofeedback can be used to evaluate muscle activity during simulated defecation. This allows both the therapist and patient to visualize incorrect contraction of these muscles which can be a common problem. Proper retraining can make having a bowel movement much easier.
Pelvic floor muscle stimulation can also be used to assist in muscle strengthening. Internal sensors are placed vaginally or rectally and a direct stimulation is given to the nerves. This will cause the muscle to contract, giving the patient a better sense of how to contract the muscle on their own.
What to expect when you visit: Your first visit is the initial evaluation where you will be asked specific questions related to your condition and special testing and examination will take place to assess your pelvic floor and surrounding musculoskeletal components.
Your following visits will incorporate an individualized pain management and pelvic floor training program with educational handouts and detailed instructions. This program will aim to focus on strengthening, endurance, and coordination of the pelvic floor and surrounding musculature. Your program will also include instructions and exercises to be performed independently at home allowing less time needed to be spent in the physical therapy clinic to achieve overall improvement.
Physical therapists trained in pelvic floor rehabilitation can provide numerous treatment options for a variety of conditions. If you experience any of these symptoms ask your doctor for a referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Postpartum Program We Offer
- Program Specifics:
- If you are someone who is 6-8 wks or more postpartum, we are offering a free consultation with one of our trained pelvic floor physical therapists to determine if PT is appropriate for you as well as help guide you in a self, home program to safely recover and regain control fo your body again.
- You simply need to call our office at 207.990.2050 and ask to be scheduled for the free postpartum consultation visit.
- What does “Postpartum” mean?
- Postpartum refers to the time period when the female body is recovering from delivering a child. During pregnancy the body goes through many changes to allow for carrying and delivering a child and these changes can contribute to how the mother feels postpartum. During pregnancy the body experiences hormonal changes and repositioning of the pelvic and abdominal organs to create a better environment for the baby. The mother has to adapt to these changes and modify her lifestyle to maximize her comfort.
- Complications that can arise from delivering a child:
- Vaginal or C-section deliveries, can contribute to various risk factors and postpartum complications. A C-section is surgery and your abdominal structures experience varying amounts of trauma during the process. Vaginal deliveries also have risks. Women who have a long duration of time pushing create more risk of injuring their pelvic floor muscles and other soft tissue structures. Prolonged pushing also causes a great deal of pressure downward on the pelvic organs, like the bladder and the rectum.
- All of these factors and many more, determine the likelihood of postpartum complications. Common postpartum complications that can occur include: low back pain, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, abdominal muscle separation, and muscle weakness.
- The bottom line
- Pregnancy is both a difficult and rewarding experience for many women. While there are complications that can arise, it is also important to take a moment to appreciate the miraculous process that occurs to produce another human being.
- Pelvic floor physical therapy is meant to maximize a mothers’ ability to care for herself and her family. We want to help decrease the risk of complications and treat any issues that the mother sustained during the pregnancy and delivery process. We help empower mothers to become stronger and more knowledgeable about their bodies and build a personalized program of recovery.
If you have recently delivered a child, please call our office today at 207.990.2050, to schedule an appointment for your initial consultation to find out how we can help you maximize a successful recovery that will benefit both you and your family!