While you may not initially think of it, our pelvis hosts some very important muscles. These "pelvic floor" muscles support internal organs, control urination and facilitate sexual health. Here, our Manotick physical therapists explain why physiotherapy treatments targeted at these muscles are so important.
The muscles of the pelvis serve a whole host of purposes in helping with our sexual and overall health. They control the flow and frequency of urination, the ability to pass bowel movements and affect sexual sensation. Because of where these muscles are located in our bodies, if they become stained or otherwise injured, they can cause pain, discomfort, sensitivity and more.
Physical therapy is able to help recover the function and feeling in your pelvic floor muscles, strengthening them and building them up to prevent future injury. If not treated this way, symptoms of injuries like urinary incontinence or organ prolapse can become facts of life.
What causes dysfunction in my pelvic muscles?
The precise cause of injury or dysfunction in your pelvic floor can be difficult to pin down. Partially, this is because the symptoms of injury or dysfunction in these muscles are similar to symptoms found in other health conditions.
The difficulty in pinning down the cause can also be attributed to the diverse range of possible ways the muscles of your pelvic floor could be adversely impacted. Some common causes of injuries or other pelvic floor dysfunction include:
- An Episiotomy (during delivery)
- Lower levels of estrogen after menopause
- Prostate Cancer
- Chronic Constipation
- Overactive/tight muscles
- Traumatic Pelvic Injuries
What are the signs I need pelvic physiotherapy?
While the symptoms of injury or dysfunction in the pelvic floor muscles can appear as pain in the muscle groups in that area, often the symptoms of pelvic dysfunction that require physical therapy will take on different forms.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of injuries, strains or dysfunction in your pelvis can include:
- Urinary/Bowel Incontinence
- Urinary Urgency
- Increased Urinary Frequency
- Reduced Sexual Sensation or Pain during intercourse
- Painful Urination
- Groin pain
- Lower Back Pain Without An Obvious Cause
If you notice any of these conditions consistently arising in your day-to-day life, you may have dysfunction or injury in your pelvic floor. While many people accept some of these symptoms as facts of life or the "price of ageing," this just isn't true. With the physiotherapy treatment offered by our Manotick physical therapists, we may be able to help you recover control over bodily functions, alleviate pain, and reduce discomfort associated with your pelvic floor.
What treatments are involved in pelvic physiotherapy?
Our Manotick physiotherapists offer treatment to patients who are suffering from pelvic floor pain or dysfunction using a number of different methods. These methods fall under two large umbrellas: passive and active physical therapies.
Passive Physiotherapy for Your Pelvic Floor
Passive physiotherapy is called this because it doesn't require our patients to take action themselves. During passive physiotherapy treatments, our physical therapists treat our clients to help relax tight muscles, encourage healing of injuries, and assess what exercises or activities might be best suited for our patient's particular case. We offer a number of passive physiotherapy treatments for pelvic floor issues in our patients, including:
- Manual Therapy - Our physiotherapists offer a number of manual therapy techniques (tissues & joints) depending on the root cause of your pain to help loosen and relax seized or spasming muscles.
- Myofascial Release & other tissue techniques (cupping, dry needling, etc) - When we have identified the source of pelvic pain as residing in a specific muscular trigger point, we use physical stimulation to release stress and tension from the identified source in your pelvic floor, low back, and buttock.
Active Physiotherapy for Your Pelvic Floor
Active physiotherapy treatments are exercises specifically prescribed for a client by one of our physiotherapists based on their professional assessment of the root cause of their discomfort or pain. These activities and exercises, help to strengthen muscles, encourage relaxation and stretch tight muscle groups.
The exercises our physiotherapists prescribe for pelvic floor issues will be hugely dependant on the specific root cause of their discomfort, but generally involve exercises, stretches and relaxation techniques to do at home. Kegels are NOT the ONLY or right answer for all!
Always wait for a physiotherapists' prescription of an exercise before engaging injured, pained, or stiff muscles. If you attempt exercises or activities without consulting your physiotherapist, you may cause yourself further injury and pain!
What About Kegels?
Kegels are a very commonly-recommended pelvic-floor exercise. Guides on how to perform them can be easily found on the internet. If you think you have a injured or dysfunctional pelvic floor, you may be tempted to look up guides online about how to perform this exercise. However, in some instances, kegel can actually be harmful to your condition!
You should always consult with your physiotherapist before you begin engaging in any long-term exercise while suffering from pelvic pain or dysfunction. They will be able to help you to plan workouts and exercises tailored to your condition and needs.