Cramping After Pelvic Floor Therapy

Like most things, you don’t realize the impact of the pelvic floor until it becomes a thorn in your side. That’s because we all need a healthy, properly working pelvic region to keep many functions in check. Such as moving, bowel and urination control, intercourse, childbirth, etc.

The muscles of the pelvic area stretch like a trampoline. Ideally, they should be thick and firm. However, when they suffer damage or get weakened, it paves the way for a number of problems. Although you can’t really see them, you can consciously control the muscles, and therefore train them.

That’s where pelvic floor therapy (PFT) comes into play. People with incontinence, persistent pelvic aches, troubles with intercourse, urination, and stool movements get referred to PFT. The question is, can you get cramps after pelvic floor therapy? What do the pelvic floor spasms feel like? We compiled a detailed guideline that will answer all your queries.

Can Pelvic Floor Exercises Cause Cramps?

When done right, pelvic floor therapy won’t cause cramping. But, if the PFT is giving you cramps, it means you are going overboard with the Kegels or you don’t do them right. According to Harvard experts, you should aim for 30-40 Kegel exercises daily. Spread them throughout the day instead of all at once. That way you are less likely to overburden the muscles.

Preferably, you should practice quick flicks (2-3 second contractions and releases) to diversify your activity. Focus on contracting the muscles for 3 to 5 seconds, then relax for another 3 to 5 seconds. Repeat the cycle about 10 times.

Based on 2019 data, Kegels have a 30% to 90% success rate in female patients with stress incontinence. Elderly patients are advised to relax their abdominal region while they contract the muscles of the pelvic floor. They should do at least 60 contractions of the pelvic area daily.

And work to achieve 150 contractions a day if possible. These techniques are meant to boost muscle tone, fecal continence, and avoid stool leakage. An occupational and physical therapist can suggest the right type of physical activity for each patient.

What About Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD) – Can It Trigger Cramping?

High-tone PFD is one of the most typical triggers for pelvic pain. It’s quite like severe cramping you might get in any other part of the body. The muscles can feel hypertrophied, boggy, or thick, research shows. All of that is often paired with discomfort and pain.

Someone with High-tone PFD experiences involuntary and sudden contractions of their levator ani muscles. These muscles are responsible for holding the vagina, uterus, bladder, and rectum. Basically, this area functions as a hammock. The contractions lead to spasms, which could interfere with leg rotations.

In a patient with Low-tone PFD, their symptoms rarely cause any pain. The contractions are weak, but the issues diminish their endurance. With adequate pelvic floor therapy, it is easy to fix muscle function. Doctors can assist in thwarting the low-tone pelvic floor symptoms. Such as frequency, urgency, and incontinence.

High-tone PFD symptoms

Low-tone PFD symptoms

Pain when having sex Painful sexual penetration
Urinary incontinence Pain when achieving an orgasm
Radiating persistent chronic pain that affects the back, abdomen, and groin Inability to wear a tampon or get a pelvic exam
Vaginal burning Constipation
Burning when peeing Pain when urinating
Constipation Urinary frequency
Frequent/strong need to urinate Pelvic aches from constant muscle stress on the tail bone & lower spine

 

Pelvic Floor Cramps vs Spasms – How to Spot the Difference?

There are plenty of misconceptions when it comes to cramps and spasms. Many people want to know what spasms feel like. Muscle aches come from a range of sources. That includes cramps, spasms, tears, and strains. A spasm happens the moment there is an involuntary contraction followed by a relaxation of the muscles.

It emerges out of the blue and it hurts. The spasms of the pelvic region often feel like bands of tight muscle. While the trigger points feel like painful muscle knots. Cramping is very similar to spasms. However, the cramps last longer and trigger sort of like a forced contraction.

Although there are a ton of causes that could lead to cramping and spasms, their most prevalent triggers are thought to be dehydration, muscle overuse, and imbalance of electrolytes in the system. When the cramping is left unmanaged and continues to impact your day-to-day life, it could cause an actual muscle fiber tear. This is what we call “muscle strain”.

Of course, muscle strains are not always the result of cramps. To know what you are dealing with, observe how long the problem lasts. A spasm tends to dissipate relatively quickly and on its own. Cramping is longer and can subside with some stretching and a massage. In case of severe cramping that limits your ability to walk, talk to your GP.

Can Pelvic Floor Therapy Make Things Worse?

PFT has a relatively high success rate. It may sound difficult, odd, and invasive, but it’s very effective for pelvic floor troubles. A majority of patients who’ve tried it have enjoyed an improvement in quality of life. Although the efficacy and therapy length vary, PFT itself is a great option for keeping the problems at bay.

We suggest you speak to a doctor and discuss the problems you are having. If cramping after therapy is your biggest issue, then the doctor can suggest ways to mitigate the discomfort. A specialized physiotherapist is fully equipped to set the muscles on the right track. Regardless of the problems, you might be experiencing.

Final Thoughts

Cramps can be quite a nuisance. Especially when you are working on the pelvic floor muscles. Most cramps are harmless. But, they could also be linked to an underlying physical ailment. If you do experience cramping post pelvic floor therapy that doesn’t go away, talk to a doctor. You might be doing the exercises wrong or you are overexerting the body. With proper expert help, you can overcome all the obstacles along the way. Just be open about it and work out a solution with your specialist.

References

https://columbiasurgery.org/colorectal/pelvic-floor-disorders-frequently-asked-questions

https://www.health.harvard.edu/bladder-and-bowel/step-by-step-guide-to-performing-kegel-exercises

https://www.healthline.com/health/kegel-exercises#purpose

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/kegel-exercise

https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/pelvic-floor-spasm/

https://warrclinic.co.uk/muscle-spasm-muscle-cramp-muscle-strain-whats-the-difference-it-hurts/

https://christianacare.org/services/urogynecology/pelvicfloormuscledysfunction/

https://journals.lww.com/jwocnonline/fulltext/2005/05001/differential_diagnosis_of_high_tone_and_low_tone.3.aspx