For many years, specialists have used pelvic floor therapy as a first-line treatment for disorders of the pelvic region, including chronic pelvic pain and urinary symptoms. However, it is still a relatively unknown treatment option. Molly Robbins, DPT, a physical therapist at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, chose to study pelvic floor health because she understands the benefits it brings to men and women — often improving quality of life tremendously.
“When you work with patients, and they get better — it is very rewarding,” says Molly. “The symptoms of pelvic floor disorders can be frustrating and embarrassing. You may not want to talk about it or leave your house for fear of an accident.”
Many men and women with pelvic floor disorders go untreated because they don’t realize that these conditions are treatable. Since 2016, St. Elizabeth Healthcare offers pelvic floor therapy to those experiencing urinary, bowel, or sexual dysfunction issues. This non-invasive therapy addresses these conditions and their related symptoms by strengthening, relaxing, and/or retraining the muscles.
What is a pelvic floor disorder?
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development estimates one-third of women in the U.S. suffer from a form of pelvic floor disorder. Many things cause pelvic floor pain, including nerve damage that occurs after childbirth or surgery, hip and spine conditions, or myofascial pain, which is caused by muscle irritation.
Common symptoms of pelvic floor disorders include:
- Accidental leakage.
- Chronic pelvic pain.
- Painful bladder syndrome.
- Pelvic organ prolapse.
- Pelvic pain after cancer or surgery, including prostate surgery.
- Urinary urgency (retention and frequency).
People with chronic pelvic pain often learn to live with it. Approximately 61% of people with chronic pelvic pain have no diagnosis. But pelvic pain is not normal, and the good news is that physical therapy is an effective treatment.
What is pelvic floor physical therapy?
Pelvic floor therapy can help with most pelvic floor disorders and help improve both physical and emotional well-being. The goal of therapy is to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Physical therapists with additional training in pelvic floor therapy provide this treatment.
Molly explains, “For each person, we complete a comprehensive evaluation, which takes about 90 minutes. We check posture, alignment, range of motion, mobility, and muscle function of the hip and pelvis.”
During the evaluation, the therapist will also do an internal pelvic floor muscle examination. Through a biofeedback diagnostic exam, they can test the strength, tone, and sensation of the pelvic floor muscles.
“It’s very important to be honest with your doctor about any current symptoms,” says Molly. “Women and men should share any information with their provider and not be afraid to ask questions.” If you experience any symptoms related to pelvic floor conditions, ask your provider if pelvic floor therapy will improve symptoms.”
For more information on pelvic floor conditions, listen to a two-part Lady Bod Podcast featuring Susan Oakley, MD, a urogynecologist with St. Elizabeth Physicians. To make an appointment or learn more about the pelvic floor therapy program, please call (859) 212-5400. Pelvic floor therapy is available in Florence, Ft. Thomas, and Edgewood.