Millions of Americans are suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction, yet for most, the disease goes unidentified and untreated. Statistics say that 1 out of every 5 Americans (of every age) suffer from some type of pelvic floor dysfunction at some time in their life. Over 25 million Americans suffer from urinary incontinence alone or involuntary loss of urine. And it is not just a “women’s” disorder; men and children can have pelvic floor dysfunction as well.
The ability to control the bladder is an important part of daily life. More than 15 million Americans have difficulty controlling their bladder and experience uncontrollable leakage of urine. This is an embarrassing problem than can be corrected with the proper therapy. Urinary Incontinence is the leading cause of falls due to frequent and urgent trips to the bathroom and a leading cause of long term care placement. However, because of embarrassment and difficulty discussing the topic with their physician, less than 50% of patients actually discuss bladder symptoms with their physicians without being specifically asked about the symptoms.
What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunctions?
Pelvic floor dysfunction refers to a wide range of problems that occur when the muscles of the pelvic floor are weak, tight, or there is an impairment of the sacroiliac joint, low back, coccyx and/or hip joint. The tissues surrounding the pelvic organs may have increased or decreased sensitivity and/or irritation resulting in pelvic pain. Many times, the underlying cause of pelvic pain is difficult to determine.
These conditions may be due to infections (usually undiagnosed), pregnancy or childbirth, insidious onset, poor posture from chronic low back or SI dysfunction, trauma (e.g. bad fall), or a result of surgery. The pelvic floor is made up of muscles and other tissues that form a sling from the pubic bone to the tailbone. They assist in supporting the abdominal and pelvic organs, and help to control bladder, bowel and sexual activity.
What Is Pelvic Pain?
Pelvic pain is felt in the lower abdomen, pelvis, or perineum and is considered to be “chronic” when it lasts for more than 6 months. Pelvic pain can be caused by:
Pregnancy and childbirth, when changing hormone levels can affect the muscles and cause the joints to become more “loose”
Pelvic joint problems
Muscle weakness or imbalance within the muscles of the pelvic floor, trunk, or pelvis
Lack of coordination in the muscles that control the bowel and bladder
Tender points in the muscles of the pelvic floor
Pressure on one or more nerves in the pelvis
Weakness in the muscles of the pelvis and pelvic floor
Scar tissue after abdominal or pelvic surgery, such as a C-section or episiotomy (incision), or as a result of a tear in the vaginal area
Pelvic organ prolapse, a shift in the position of the pelvic organs
How Does it Feel?
The pain in your lower abdomen and pelvis may vary; some people say that it feels like an aching pain; others say that it feels like a burning, sharp, or stabbing pain, or even pins and needles. In addition, you may have:
Pain in the hip or buttock
Pain in the tailbone or pubic bone
Inability to sit for normal periods of time
Pain in the joints of the pelvis
Pain with sexual intercourse
Tender points in the muscles of the abdomen
Reduced ability to move your hips or low back
Difficulty walking, sleeping, and doing physical activities
Urinary frequency, urgency, or incontinence
Painful bowel movements
Constipation or straining with bowel movements
With pelvic organ prolapse, there also might be a sensation of pelvic heaviness or a feeling like you’re sitting on a ball, due to the pelvic organs bulging at the opening of the vagina.
At FYZICAL our Pelvic Physical Therapist actively take part in your health and wellness and offer comprehensive evaluation and treatment options.
Services Available as indicated:
Please Call (317) 723-6089 to schedule your appointment.
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) believes that consumers should have access to information that could help them make health care decisions and also prepare them for their visit with their health care provider. The following articles provide some of the best scientific evidence related to physical therapy treatment of pelvic pain. The articles report recent research and give an overview of the standards of practice for treatment of TMD both in the United States and internationally. The article titles are linked either to a PubMed abstract of the article or to free full text, so that you can read it or print out a copy to bring with you to your health care provider.
Fisher KA. Management of dyspareunia and associated levator ani muscle overactivity. Phys Ther. 2007;87:935-941. Free Article
Stuge B, Holm I, Vollestad N. To treat or not to treat postpartum pelvic girdle pain with stabilizing exercises? Man Ther. 2006;11:337-343. Article Summary on PubMed
Borello-France DF, Handa VL, Brown MB, et al. Pelvic-floor muscle function in women with pelvic organ prolapse. Phys Ther. 2007;87:399-407. Free Article
Depledge J, McNair PJ, Keal-Smith C, Williams M. Management of symphysis pubis dysfunction during pregnancy using exercise and pelvic support belts. Phys Ther. 2005;85:1290-1300. Free Article
Weiss JM. Pelvic floor myofascial trigger points: manual therapy for interstitial cystitis and the urgency-frequency syndrome. J Urol. 2001;166:2226-2231. Article Summary on PubMed
Acknowledgments: APTA’s Secion on Women’s Health; Kendra Harrington, PT, DPT, WCS