Pelvic Pain Shouldn't Be Taboo. It's Time We Talk About What It Is and What You Can Do About It.
You read that right! Did you know that you can receive physical therapy for your pelvic floor? The pelvic floor is a muscle group that lies within a ring of bones at the base of the torso. The pelvis! It sits like a hammock and acts literally as the floor of your torso. This muscle group is responsible for some pretty crucial functions that we often take for granted: bowel, bladder, and sexual functions as well as stability to the pelvic ring and support for the pelvic organs. As probably the most neglected muscle group, it is easily forgotten when training, exercising, and even in rehab until one of its functions fail.
Have you ever peed a little when you sneezed, laughed, or exercised? Ever have to urgently run to the bathroom and feel you have little control? Ever have pelvic pain? You don’t have to live with that! These are only a few of the commonly addressed symptoms our pelvic health team treats.
Interestingly, pelvic floor dysfunction is much more common than you might think. One in every four women will have experienced some sort of pelvic floor dysfunction in their lifetimes. While the statistics are less for men, it still is very common for them too! Yet, oftentimes, we see patients who have suffered from painful or embarrassing symptoms for years before hearing about pelvic floor physical therapy. We often see that patients are apprehensive about what to expect or have hesitations about asking questions or sharing their struggles or are skeptical about the nature of the care they will need.
As you might imagine, rehab for your pelvic floor may seem a little different than rehab for your knee or shoulder. It is! But not a lot. Here’s what to expect:
Just like any other body part, pelvic floor PT begins with the initial evaluation. This is done in a private treatment room with your therapist (and some choose to bring a significant other, trusted family member, or friend). We start by chatting about your symptoms, answering and asking lots of pelvic floor related questions (and trust me, there are no weird questions when you spend your days discussing poop, pee, and sex). That is followed by a full-body movement assessment because, guess what, the pelvic floor never works in isolation! So expect us to check out your walk, your squat, your posture, and take some strength and range of motion measurements of your lower extremities. When necessary, we also do a pelvic floor assessment which is always optional and consensual, of course. This will involve a visual inspection of the affected area and internal assessment of the pelvic floor muscles. Once the evaluation is all done, we make an individualized plan of care which usually involves a combination of education, exercise, and hands-on therapy.
One patient shared, "To all the women out there, I was in PT for pelvic floor damage after the birth of my son and my PT was a Godsend after 18 months of pelvic pain and dysfunction. Her expert knowledge and care was the turning point for me in getting relief and healing. She was tuned in, intuitive, and always on top of my treatment plan and I'm happy to say that I have functionality that I had previously believed I would never regain.
Also, during my 8 months of treatment, I had to bring my toddler to most appointments with me and I never felt awkward about it...the staff was so friendly to him, giving him space to play and engaging with him, greeting him by name every time we came in.” – Hannah B.
We like to keep things light, fun, and interesting and patients always leave knowing so much more about their bodies. If you have questions about your pelvic floor or if you think you could use therapy, give us a call and we'll be happy to answer any questions. Or, you can always take advantage of our Free Telehealth Discovery Visits. When you're ready, you can easily get scheduled by clicking the Request Appointment button at the top of this page.
Sarah Shaw, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor rehabilitation at Rehab United's Bonita and Kearny Mesa locations. She received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2019 from San Diego State University and has since been continuing her education in pelvic pain, women's and men's pelvic health, and Applied Functional Science. While the pelvic floor is her specialty, Sarah also treats other orthopedic-related injuries, ensuring a more well-rounded and holistic approach to pelvic health.