Millions of women experience a form of pelvic floor dysfunction at some stage in their lives. Aging, pregnancy, childbirth, and trauma can all cause severe pelvic pain that can affect the quality of your life. However, women can improve their pelvic health and overall wellness with the help of licensed specialists.
What Is Women’s Health Physical Therapy?
Women’s Health Physical Therapy is an umbrella term for the therapeutic treatments of all pelvic floor dysfunctions. Pelvic floor dysfunction includes a variety of symptoms that appear due to weakened pelvic muscles and ligaments.
From infections, fecal incontinence, and prolapse to dysfunction with intercourse, and unbearable pelvic pain, the number of musculoskeletal conditions that can affect women is long, but research proves that physiotherapy can help alleviate, treat and cure pelvic floor dysfunctions. Pelvic floor dysfunctions can also affect men and cause erectile dysfunction. These types of disorders can be caused by pregnancy, childbirth, aging, trauma, constipation, and chronic coughing. Additionally, pelvic floor dysfunction can be hereditary.
It’s worth noting that pelvic floor dysfunctions are fairly common, in fact, research by the National Institute of Health shows that nearly 24 percent of U.S. women are affected with one or more pelvic floor disorders. However, many women decide to ignore the symptoms and not seek medical care which can lead to burning pain and a decreased quality of life.
How Does Women’s Health Physical Therapy Help Patients?
Physical therapy is performed by licensed clinicians who can evaluate the severity of pelvic floor dysfunction and treat musculoskeletal disorders. During their lifespan, women can experience a variety of pelvic floor disorders which, in many cases, can be treated relatively easily if a therapist is contacted for help. Your therapist will evaluate your condition and create a personalized therapy that usually lasts between three weeks and a couple of months.
Women’s health physical therapy includes manual therapy, pelvic floor exercises, bladder training, and biofeedback.
The therapy also teaches women how to help themselves, prevent new symptoms, and gain control over their bodies. Last but not least, physical therapists encourage women to take charge of their wellness and maintain their pelvic health.
How Long Is Physical Therapy for Women’s Health?
The length of the therapy depends on the severity of the symptoms. Usually, patients take six to eight weeks of treatment to alleviate the symptoms. However, the treatment can last several months for patients with severe pain.
Once the symptoms start to improve, it’s very important for patients to do regular check-ups and periodically have treatments. Keep in mind that taking medications regularly is vital for the process to finish as soon as possible. Also, don’t skip physical therapy appointments and exercises because this will prolong your symptoms.
Conditions Women’s Health Physical Therapy Can Help With
The most common conditions treated by women’s health specialists are:
- Urinary incontinence
- Fecal incontinence
- Breast cancer
- Low back pain during pregnancy
- Loss of pelvic floor function after childbirth
- Discomfort in the bladder and urethra
- Sports injuries
Women’s Health Physical Therapy for Pelvic Health
Physical therapy can improve your overall pelvic health. It alleviates myofascial pelvic pain and can reduce the symptoms caused by pelvic floor dysfunctions.
Women’s Health Physical Therapy for Incontinence
A range of treatments is available to treat incontinence. Physical therapists usually determine the severity of the symptoms patients are suffering from by examining the type of incontinence, your overall musculoskeletal health, and the strength of your pelvic muscle.
After the evaluation, your physical therapist would be able to develop an individualized exercise treatment program for your needs. This type of program can help patients avoid surgery and medication.
Incontinence is usually treated with the following methods:
Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises or Kegel exercises involve contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. Kegel exercises can help you strengthen and nourish the muscles around your bladder, bottom, vagina, or penis. They can alleviate severe pain, improve intercourse, treat pelvic organ prolapse, and help with urinary incontinence. Patients need to do the exercises several times a day, be consistent, and stay patient. The effect of kegel exercises is usually noticeable after one to three months.
Bladder training or scheduled voiding helps the patient have better control over their bladder. It’s recommended for the patient to not experiment on their own and do training solely under the supervision of a continence health expert. Bladder training is considered to be one of the crucial methods for the treatment of overactive bladder and urinary incontinence. The training can help patients reduce the constant need to visit the toilet, help them control the urges, and increase the volume of urine they can comfortably hold.
Biofeedback therapy can help patients get a better awareness of automatic body functions such as breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. This type of therapy can help patients take conscious control over their involuntary body functions. Aside from treating pelvic floor dysfunctions, biofeedback can also help with high blood pressure, anxiety, and pain, and improve your overall medical condition.
Women’s Health Physical Therapy for Prolapse
Prolapse is caused by the stretching of the pelvic organs and ligaments such as the uterus, rectum, and bladder. Physical therapy offers exercises that strengthen the core muscles (abdominal muscles) and lower back muscles, which can ease the symptoms of prolapse. They are usually practiced alongside kegel exercises and breathing techniques. These exercises can help patients with minor pelvic organ prolapse, while severe prolapse is usually treated with surgery.
If you have any questions concerning pelvic floor dysfunctions and treatments, please do not hesitate to contact our team.