There's PT for That? (internal)
Broken ankle? Ouch. You go to physical therapy to make sure it heals properly with full function and flexibility.
Shoulder surgery? You go to physical therapy to regain strength and range of motion.
Leaking pee when you sneeze? Chronic pelvic pain? It hurts to have sex? You go to physical therapy to address your pelvic floor symptoms.
Pelvic Floor Problems
That’s right: There’s PT for that.
Pelvic pain, urinary issues, difficulty with bowel movements, low back and hip pain, and more may all be signs of pelvic floor-related problems. We’ll discuss all these symptoms in detail in upcoming lessons. But for now, the important point is: These conditions can be treated with pelvic floor physical therapy (PFPT).
If that’s news to you, you’re not the only one. A lot of people are unaware that PFPT is a thing. And a very effective thing.
Your pelvic floor is made up of layers of muscles, ligaments, and fascia (or connective tissue) that stretch from your pubic bone in front of your body back to your tailbone in the back. Together, these structures make up the bottom or “floor” of the bowl-shaped pelvis (in both females and males).
Did you catch that? Muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue. Just like in your ankles, shoulders, knees, and hips. That’s why physical therapy for pelvic floor-related issues makes sense. That’s why physical therapy works for pelvic pain, pee troubles, and a whole laundry list of problems “down there.” In fact, many studies show that lifestyle modifications, a specialized physical therapy exercise program, and other treatments can significantly improve symptoms of pelvic floor problems.
Maybe you have a mental picture of what physical therapy is like for an ankle or shoulder injury. And you might be wondering, “What in the world does pelvic floor physical therapy involve?” Good question.
PT for Your Privates
It’s probably not what you think. Or it’s much more than what you’re picturing. Pelvic floor physical therapy involves a holistic, whole-person approach that helps you address pelvic floor symptoms through:
Education about your pelvic anatomy and function
Training in behavioral and lifestyle strategies that can affect pelvic floor function, including sleep, stress management, healthy bathroom habits, nutrition, and more
Movement and exercises that target the muscles of the pelvic floor and other connected structures (and no, it’s not just Kegels)
Manual therapy that can include internal and external massage, biofeedback training, and many other treatments (but an internal exam may not be needed for many pelvic floor problems)
Treatment is provided under the guidance of a licensed doctor of physical therapy who also has extensive specialized training and clinical practice experience in pelvic health.
PFPT treatment can be effective in person and virtually, depending on the issues that you need to address. In fact, a lot of people find that virtual care is more comfortable and convenient because they can communicate with their therapist and do their exercises in the privacy of their own homes and on their own schedule.
What about results? Each person’s experience will be unique, but many start to see improvement after just a few weeks of PFPT. You can learn techniques and make lifestyle changes that you may continue as long-term daily habits.
Who knew, right? Now you do.
That knowledge brings power. Because now you know that there’s effective treatment for pelvic floor problems. And Hinge Health can help. Our unique program gives you access to pelvic floor physical therapists and health coaches who specialize in women’s health and behavior change, as well as an extensive library of resources on specific pelvic health topics. So, yes, there’s PT for that. And you’re in the right place to get started.
“I wish I had known that PFPT existed, even before childbirth. The most valuable part of pelvic floor physical therapy for me has been the knowledge and confidence I gained about my own body and how it works. That led to a drastically improved quality of life.” — Pelvic floor physical therapy patient
Just like other parts of your body that benefit from physical therapy, your pelvic floor is made up of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues.
Pelvic floor problems like pelvic pain, urinary issues, and more can be addressed with pelvic floor physical therapy.
PFPT is a whole-person approach to treating pelvic symptoms with education, behavioral and lifestyle training, exercise, manual therapy, and more.
Bonis, M., Lormand, J., & Walsh, C. (2019). Using the Pelvic Floor Impact Questionnaire and lifestyle modifications to improve symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. American Journal of Biomedical Science & Research, 3(1), 23-26. doi:10.34297/ajbsr.2019.03.000628
Subak, L. L., Quesenberry, C. P., Posner, S. F., Cattolica, E., & Soghikian, K. (2002). The effect of behavioral therapy on urinary incontinence: A randomized controlled trial. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 100(1), 72–78. doi:10.1016/s0029-7844(02)01993-2
Newman, D. K., & Wein, A. J. (2013). Office-based behavioral therapy for management of incontinence and other pelvic disorders. The Urologic clinics of North America, 40(4), 613–635. doi:10.1016/j.ucl.2013.07.010
da Mata, K., Costa, R., Carbone, É., Gimenez, M. M., Bortolini, M., Castro, R.A., & Fitz, F. F. (2021). Telehealth in the rehabilitation of female pelvic floor dysfunction: a systematic literature review. International urogynecology journal, 32(2), 249–259. doi:10.1007/s00192-020-04588-8
Barrett, F., Stewart, L. E., & Brucker, B. M. (2021). Evidence for the Appropriate Use of Telemedicine in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. Current bladder dysfunction reports, 1–8. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s11884-021-00635-2