Pelvic floor physical therapy (PT) includes a range of exercises and treatments designed to strengthen or relax muscles that support the pelvic organs. There are several medical professionals, such as specialized physical therapists, doctors, or nurse practitioners that may offer this unique option to treat different conditions.
Urinary incontinence can range from mild and few drops of urine to complete loss of bladder control. Stress incontinence is the most common and usually occurs if you sneeze or cough. Women who lift heavyweights, such as doing the deadlift in powerlifting, may find it difficult to hold their bladder during the lift. Exercises during pelvic floor PT are designed to strengthen the pelvic muscles that help control the urethra and minimize or prevent incontinence. Similarly, those with fecal incontinence can benefit from PT because exercises can help increase strength and control of the pelvic muscles surrounding the rectum.
Vaginismus can be a painful condition where the vaginal walls narrow, creating a sense of a blockage in the vagina. The problem may be ongoing or intermittent. This condition can make sexual intercourse difficult or impossible, and it may also limit a woman's use of tampons. One form of pelvic PT is the use of dilators. A dilator is a device of varying sizes that are inserted into the vagina to help stretch the muscles. Women typically start with the smallest and most comfortable dilators and slowly increase the size of the dilator as their vagina will allow. Although the cause of vaginismus is not always known, anxiety or stress, such as past sexual trauma, may contribute to the problem. Practicing relaxation techniques designed to relax the vaginal wall and the pelvic floor may also reduce the problem.
Pelvic pain may be caused by any number of problems, such as tumors, endometriosis, or urinary system conditions. Once other problems have been eliminated as the possible culprit, PT might be recommended to reduce the problem. Both external and internal exercises might be recommended. External exercises may include contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. To do these exercises correctly, a medical professional may start by inserted a finger into the vagina and asking you to contract and relax the muscles. This helps ensure you are identifying the correct muscles.
Internal treatments can include the use of electrical stimulation to reduce pelvic floor spasms. Trigger point therapy is another option where a medical professional may insert a finger into the vagina to identify trigger points that cause pelvic muscle spasms or pain. Once these trigger points are identified, they may be injected with a local anesthetic.
Pelvic floor PT encompasses a range of internal and external techniques that can improve several urogynecological conditions. Much like other forms of PT, consistent use of techniques may provide ongoing relief of your medical condition. Contact a pelvic floor physical therapy treatment service for more information.