Lisa Tate, MSPT, WCS, CLT-LANA, is the Pelvic Floor Team Leader for Good Shepherd Penn Partners and treats patients at Penn Therapy & Fitness Cherry Hill. She is a certified Women’s Health Specialist, has advanced training in pelvic floor therapy, and is a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. Lisa specializes in treating patients with conditions requiring pelvic floor rehabilitation and lymphedema therapy.
Most people think of physical therapy as lifting weights or stretching. What is involved during treatment sessions during pelvic floor therapy?
Like any other type of physical rehabilitation, pelvic floor physical therapy focuses on problems impacting the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes muscles, joints, connective tissue and nerves. In many cases, symptoms in the bladder, bowel, or pelvis are occurring because of a problem with associated with muscles, joints, connective tissue, or nerves.
What are some common injuries/conditions that patients coming in for pelvic floor therapy are dealing with?
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help improve a variety of conditions, including:
- Frequent urination (frequency) or strong urge to urinate (urgency)
- Unwanted loss of urine or stool (incontinence)
- Pain in the pelvis, hip, abdomen, thigh, low back, including with intercourse
- Pregnancy/post-pregnancy pain or incontinence, scars (vaginal or abdominal)
What surprises patients most about their body/experience during pelvic floor therapy?
Many people are surprised that symptoms can be relieved through pelvic floor physical therapy! Very often I hear, "I came because my doctor sent me, but I didn't expect it to get better!"
Another thing that surprises people is the comprehensiveness of the examination. So many factors can influence the pelvic region that pelvic floor physical therapists conduct evaluations like detectives looking for clues.
Finally, some patients are nervous when they learn that there likely will be internal examination and/or treatment involved. Pelvic floor physical therapy takes place one-on-one in a private treatment room, due to the intimacy of the area. Strengthening exercises can often be a component of pelvic floor physical therapy, but do not require gym equipment. Afterwards, people almost always say they should not have wasted time worrying – it was no big deal!
How can physical therapy play an important part in managing pain/issues related to the pelvic floor region?
Pelvic floor disorder symptoms are often caused by imbalances in muscle tone, strength of the pelvic floor and associated muscles. Pelvic floor physical therapy is very often the first-line standard of care in treatment of these issues, as it addresses the issues at their source.
How can pelvic floor therapy help men and what conditions can it be beneficial in managing?
For penile and testicular pain, once serious medical issues have been ruled out, pelvic floor physical therapy is often the best way to manage these symptoms. Because the source of the pain is often in the pelvic floor or abdominal soft tissue, pelvic floor therapy can correct the imbalances. Pelvic floor physical therapy is very helpful for men who have incontinence post-prostatectomy.