Why Kegels Aren’t Enough: Pelvic Physical Therapy
Many women do not normally associate pelvic pain with physical therapy. They feel pain and notice the symptoms, but can’t tie a physical reason to the discomfort they’re feeling. Unfortunately, conditions related to pelvic health can take years to diagnose and treat. This gap develops because most of the time it’s hard for providers and patients to realize that musculoskeletal problems are at the root of their pain. At least a quarter of women suffer from a pelvic floor disorder—and these are just the reported cases. Considering the statistics and how these conditions can affect a woman’s quality of life, it’s important to educate women about what can be done.
Breaking Down Pelvic Pain
Anything related to pelvic health has to do with the bladder, bowel, sacroiliac joint (joints at the bottom of the spine), and low back. The pelvic floor is a sheet of muscles suspended from the SI joint in the middle of the pelvis to the tailbone. It provides support for your core and internal organs. These muscles can dysfunction in many different ways, but in general they are either hypotonic (weak) or hypertonic (tight/painful) which causes for pelvic floor dysfunction. Someone with a weaker pelvic floor could present to physical therapist with issues of incontinence while someone with a tight pelvic floor could present with pain.
A pelvic disorder doesn’t necessarily only cause pain in your pelvis. Organs in your pelvic area (i.e. bladder) could also be experiencing discomfort. Any muscular problems you’re having could manifest as incontinence or prolapse, when your pelvic organs drop down from their normal positions. You may also feel increased urgency or pain when urinating or during bowel movements. Having unexplained pain the the lower back and pelvic area may also be a sign.
Kegels Aren’t For Everyone
There’s a general myth that only older women or women who have had children need pelvic floor treatment. The truth is these conditions are common in many different age groups. Numerous situations can cause dysfunctions that may have no connection to childbirth. Kegel exercises help to strengthen your pelvic floor, but that’s not all treatment comes down to. Are you really performing your kegel exercises correctly? Chances are that you aren’t.
Pelvic floor physical therapist can ensure you are performing your exercises with the proper techniques. Additionally, there are some women with pelvic floor disorders, where kegel exercises should be avoided. In these cases, doing kegels may actually make the pain worse. This is why you should always seek the help of a physical therapist to ensure proper guidance is in effect.
Empower Your Pelvic Floor
Physical therapy is a great way to get your life back—and feel like you again. Consider when you would ever go to a physical therapist. If you had injured your lower back or had some knee pain, you would most likely go see a physical therapist for treatment. The same applies to pelvic disorders. It all comes down to relaxing, strengthening, and healing muscle tissues. Treatment can include the use of hands-on treatment methods that can range from manual therapy and therapeutic exercise to dry needling. Devices for electrical stimulation and biofeedback electromyography (measuring muscle response) can also aid with healing.
Having incontinence, pelvic pain, and lower back pain are not a natural part of the aging process. These are certainly not conditions one should just have to deal with. If you feel you may be suffering from a pelvic floor dysfunction, follow through with physical therapy treatment.