Physical Therapy Can Help With Pelvic Issues
Do you hold in your sneeze or hold back a laugh for fear you’ll “wet your pants”? Do you have discomfort during sexual intercourse? Do you experience pelvic pain when going to the bathroom or exercising? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone.
“So many women experience these problems, but they’re embarrassed to talk about them,” says family medicine doctor Jennifer Lyons, DO, with Lehigh Valley Health Network.
Yet there is help. Physical therapists who are specially educated in women’s health can evaluate and treat women with pelvic issues, including:
- Urinary incontinence – It affects 50 percent of adult women. Many symptoms are caused by pelvic floor muscle weakness and dysfunction. Learn more about this condition.
- Pelvic pain – This may include pain in your lower abdomen, pelvis, lower back, tailbone or hips. Some women may feel pain while going to the bathroom or during sexual intercourse.
- Organ prolapse – When the muscles that hold the pelvic organs become weak or stretched, your organs (the bladder, uterus, small bowel or rectum) can drop from their normal positions. Although pregnancy is the most common cause of prolapse, it also can be caused by carrying extra pounds.
- Prenatal and postpartum pain and dysfunction – Fluctuating hormone levels during prenatal and postpartum months can cause stress on joints and bones. Also, some muscles tighten up, while others become stretched and weak, creating pain and possible dysfunction.
“The pelvic area includes a network of strong muscular support,” says health network women’s health physical therapist Lauren Garges. “We work to maximize your function and minimize pain through strengthening and relaxing of the muscles.”
The care you get in physical therapy may include muscle strengthening and Kegel exercises, biofeedback, stretching and relaxation exercises. It also may include manual therapy methods such as trigger point releases and soft-tissue massage. The bottom line: “The sooner you seek help, the sooner you end the embarrassment and feel better,” Garges says.
How can I see a PT?
To see a physical therapist, you most often will need a referral from your primary care doctor or ob/gyn. Physical therapy is covered by most insurance plans.