While you may not be thinking about it often, your pelvis actually plays host to a variety of important muscles. Called the pelvic floor, these muscles support your internal organs, control your urination and more. Here, our Orleans physiotherapists explain how these muscles may be impacted by injury and dysfunction, including the symptoms and associated treatments.
The muscles of your pelvis serve many purposes in both supporting overall health and sexual function. They control the flow and frequency of urination, assist in passing bowel movements and can affect sexual sensation. Because of these muscles' location in our bodies, if they become strained or injured, they may cause pain, discomfort, sensitivity and more. When your pelvic floor muscles experience strain or injury, it is referred to as pelvic floor dysfunction.
Physical therapy may be able to help you recover to function and feeling in the muscles of your pelvic floor, 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 exact cause of your injury or dysfunction in your pelvic floor can actually be quite difficult to nail down. This is because the symptoms of injury in your pelvic floor can actually be similar to symptoms caused by other health conditions altogether.
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:
- Chronic Constipation
- Prostate Cancer
- Overactive/tight muscles
- Traumatic Pelvic Injuries
- An Episiotomy (during delivery)
- Lower levels of estrogen after menopause
What are some of the most common symptoms of pelvic dysfunction?
While symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction may appear as pain in the muscles of that area of your body, often, the symptoms of pelvic dysfunction that require physiotherapy may take on very different forms.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of injuries, strains or dysfunction in your pelvis can include:
- Groin pain
- Painful Urination
- Urinary Urgency
- Increased Urinary Frequency
- Urinary/Bowel Incontinence
- Lower Back Pain Without An Obvious Cause
- Reduced Sexual Sensation or Pain during intercourse
If you notice that any of the above conditions are consistently arising in your day-to-day life, you may be experiencing dysfunction in your pelvic floor. While many people will accept these symptoms as part of aging this doesn't necessarily have to be true. While physical therapy at our Orleans physiotherapists, we may be able to help you recover control over your bodily functions, reduce your discomfort and alleviate any pain you may be feeling.
What treatments are involved in pelvic physiotherapy?
The team of physiotherapists at our Orleans physiotherapy center offers a range of treatments for those suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction using a number of different methods. And, while these treatments are tailored to your specific case of pelvic floor dysfunction, you don't have to be experiencing pain in order to seek treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction!
In fact, physical therapy shines as a means of preventive injuries, dysfunction or other health issues from arising in a patient in the first place. Treatments at our clinic focus on supporting the strength and mobility of the muscles in your pelvis (or any other part of your body) to prevent injuries or dysfunction from ever occurring in the first place!
The methods we use to treat and prevent the development of pelvic dysfunction 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 that are specially prescribed for a client by one of our physical therapists based on their assessment of the root cause of their discomfort or pain. The activities and exercises recommended by our physiotherapists are designed to help to strengthen muscles, encourage relaxation and stretch tight muscle groups.
The exercises our physiotherapists prescribe for pelvic floor issues will be hugely dependent 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!