Physio for the pelvic floor can help when the pelvic floor muscles you have relied upon throughout your life weaken or present other symptoms that indicate a pelvic floor dysfunction.
The pelvic floor muscles are located between the hip bones and the sacrum. The uterus, prostate, bladder, and colon are positioned in the pelvic floor area, supporting these organs. When the muscles in this area are either too weak or too tight, you can suffer from urinary incontinence, constipation, bowel movement strain, pelvic organ prolapse, and sexual dysfunction.
A dysfunctional pelvic floor is common during pregnancy. Therefore, most patients who seek physiotherapy help are women. However, pelvic floor physiotherapy (PFPT) can help both men and women build strong and supportive pelvic floor muscles.
Do I Need Physio for Pelvic Floor?
When you show up at your physiotherapist’s office, you will learn about the muscles, nerves, joints, and connective tissue in the pelvic floor area and how they affect the concrete pelvic floor dysfunction you suffer from.
Usually, people seek physio help when the problem progresses, becomes unbearable or too embarrassing (for example, you cannot wait to get to the toilet or suffer from accidental leaks during sports, coughing, or sneezing).
Many women accept pelvic floor dysfunction as a common childbirth consequence and don’t do anything about it.
Sportspeople who work hard, especially on the muscles in the abdominal area, can tighten the pelvic floor muscles too much.
Although weaker pelvic muscles are normal as you age, a simple set of physio exercises for the pelvic floor and appropriate treatment can solve the problem in several months.
Physiotherapy for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
The longer you wait with physio after noticing the first signs of a weak or tight pelvic floor, the more effort you will need to invest in getting better.
When you experience constipation or faecal incontinence that won’t go away, pain during intercourse or urination, muscle spasms in the pelvis, pain or pressure in the rectum, you should schedule a visit to a physiotherapy clinic to get an exam. The physio for pelvic dysfunction can include:
- Education about how pelvic muscles work
- Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises)
- Manual relaxation, which provides for hands-on massage to help with circulation, stretching, and mobility.
- Biofeedback, based on a computer analysis of a probe test.
- Electrical stimulation, including a low voltage current to train the patients how to contract pelvic floor muscles.
- Uroflowmetry test
- Medications, depending on what organs bear the difficulties of the pelvic floor dysfunction
- Relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, warm baths, or acupuncture.
- Trigger point injection (TPI) to relax knots that form in the muscle after inactivity.
Surgery, a last resort for many physio pains, is not an option for the pelvic floor because you need to work on the muscles. It is important to keep in mind that physio for pelvic floor issues won’t solve all problems with your pelvic floor organs. For example, if you have an underlying bowel disease or inflammation issues in the area, you may need alternative treatment.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor strengthening exercises, are by far the most popular pelvic floor workout.
It will take some time to get used to contracting precisely the muscles in the pelvic area because they are difficult to isolate if you don’t exercise them regularly.
How to Do Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises are performed on an empty bladder, in a lying, sitting or even standing position.
Hold the muscles tight for 3 to 5 seconds, then release. Breathe deeply and try not to squeeze other muscle areas. In time, you’ll get better with this practice.
Try not to over-exercise, as you may need to go the other way around and seek physical therapy for tight pelvic floor muscles.
Common Misconceptions about Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy (PFPT)
Common myths about pelvic floor physio people have are: “I’m too old”, “I’m a man”, and “I’ve just had a baby, so the damage is done.” The physio for the pelvic floor is for men and women. Men do not have a uterus, but they do have pelvic muscles. Age is not an obstacle – physio shows results at any age. And if you start physiotherapy soon after childbirth, you will get back in shape in no time.
As you may reasonably assume, success requires persistence on your part. In the case of pelvic floor physiotherapy, this could take about 4 to 6 weeks.