On the Mend Physical Therapy is a great choice for helping women with many issues ranging from pre-natal care to post-natal treatment and pelvic floor issues including urinary or bowel incontinence.

Pelvic floor dysfunction affects millions of women, yet many are unaware that a women’s health physical therapist can help treat and prevent pelvic floor issues, which often cause urinary and/or bowel incontinence and pelvic pain. Regardless of the cause—pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, trauma, chronic constipation, chronic cough, or simply aging—physical therapy can be an effective, non-invasive treatment option.

Pregnancy

Hormonal fluctuations, along with physical changes to the body during pregnancy, can affect the mother’s posture, flexibility, muscle strength, and spinal mobility—all of which often leads to pain and dysfunction. 

After the mother gives birth, further physical and hormonal changes may give way to additional musculoskeletal issues, including weakness of the core stabilizers and over-mobile joints. Specific conditions that often affect new mothers include pelvic weakness and pain, incontinence, diastasis rectus abdominis, pelvic organ prolapse, and pain due to episiotomy and/or cesarean section scars. 

A physical therapist specializing in women’s health will address and correct these issues using a variety of treatment techniques, which may include: 

  • Manual realignment of the pelvic girdle joints and lumbar spine 
  • Gentle soft tissue and joint mobilization during the prenatal months 
  • External and/or internal soft tissue mobilization, scar mobilization, visceral mobilization and/or joint mobilization during the postpartum months 
  • Neuromuscular re-education of the pelvic floor muscles 
  • Lumbopelvic stabilization exercises 
  • Core strengthening 
  • Postural strengthening 
  • Exercises to promote optimal body mechanics 
  • Heat/cold therapy 
  • Electrical stimulation 
  • Ultrasound 
  • Fitting for a support belt 
  • Education on self-management strategies 

Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when one or more pelvic structures/organs descends through the vaginal and/or rectal openings. POP is most common in older women; however, it can affect women of all ages. 

A women’s health physical therapist will treat this condition by improving pelvic floor muscle tone, strength, and coordination as well as guiding improvements in other areas that may help control the symptoms associated with pelvic organ prolapse.

Treatment techniques may include: 

  • External and internal soft tissue mobilization, myofascial and trigger point release, connective tissue manipulation, and visceral mobilization 
  • Neuromuscular re-education of the pelvic floor musculature 
  • Education on voiding and defecation mechanics (e.g., contraction, pressure, and relaxation) 
  • Behavioral postural training 
  • Education on self-management strategies 
  • Treatment of related lumbosacral, hip, sacroiliac joint, coccyx, and pelvic girdle conditions 
  • Electrical stimulation, TENS, ultrasound, and heat/cold therapy 
  • Home exercise program instruction 

Incontinence

Bowel and bladder dysfunction are common among women and can lead to a variety of incontinence issues, from stress incontinence and incomplete emptying to urinary retention and chronic constipation. These issues can limit participation in social and physical activities, drastically decreasing a person’s happiness and quality of life. 

A qualified women’s health physical therapist can address incontinence issues by helping normalize the tone, strength, and coordination of the pelvic floor muscles as well as providing education on bladder and bowel habits and ergonomics.

Treatment techniques may include: 

  • External and internal soft tissue mobilization, myofascial and trigger point release, connective tissue manipulation, and visceral mobilization 
  • Neuromuscular re-education of the pelvic floor musculature 
  • Education on voiding and defecation mechanics (e.g., contraction, pressure, and relaxation) 
  • Behavioral postural training 
  • Education on self-management strategies 
  • Treatment of related lumbosacral, hip, sacroiliac joint, coccyx, and pelvic girdle conditions 
  • Electrical stimulation, TENS, ultrasound, and heat/cold therapy 
  • Home exercise program instruction

Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain—on its own or in conjunction with certain activities, such as sexual intercourse—is a very common women’s health issue. In some cases, physical therapy can help alleviate pelvic pain. Unlike other treatment options, physical therapy provides a holistic approach to this issue, considering the whole body and addressing all contributing musculoskeletal factors. 

A qualified women’s health physical therapist can address pelvic pain using a combination of manual therapy, exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, pain neurophysiology education, behavior modification instruction, and self-management education. The goal is to improve the underlying condition causing the pain, which often means strengthening and toning the pelvic floor, abdominal, gluteal, lumbosacral, and hip rotator muscles and addressing any postural problems. 

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