The muscles that you strengthen with Kegel exercises can also be a source of pain ranging from discomfort to debilitating pain. These muscles can be too tight, or have trigger points or “knots” that reduce blood flow and cause pain and problems with bowel and bladder function. There is a covering over the muscles called Myofascia that can be tight, cause pain and be part of the problem as well. Scar adhesions that involve the muscles or surrounding soft tissues can also produce symptoms. Muscles and fascial restrictions are what physical therapists (PTs) work with every day, and there are PT specialists that are specifically trained to assess and treat the pelvic floor muscles and tissues.
The following symptoms may be related to pelvic floor muscle dysfunction (PFD):
- Lower abdominal or pelvic pain without other obvious organ source.
- Pain during or after urinating or defecating, after infection is ruled out.
- Pain with vaginal palpation or penetration, ie. during sex, tampon use or pelvic exams.
- Tailbone pain, rectal or pubic pain, or low back or hip pain that doesn’t respond to conventional treatment or rehab.
- Difficulty urinating or having bowel movements.
If you or someone you care about has any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor or health care provider about a consult with our physical therapists that specialize in pelvic floor rehab or women’s health.
Physical Therapy treatment for pelvic floor muscle dysfunction can include:
- External and/or internal assessment of your pelvic floor muscle tone, length, and strength by a therapist trained specifically in this specialty.
- Massage, Myofascial release and manual therapy to the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding muscles and connective tissues.
- Assessment of muscles that affect PFD such as abdominals, hip rotators & inner thigh muscles.
- Assessment of skeletal alignment issues, such as sacro-iliac joints and pubic joint
- Patient education about pelvic, bladder, and bowel health and function
- Biofeedback using EMG (electromyography) via external electrodes or an internal sensor.
The physical therapist will work within your comfort level to assess and treat any potential problems with your pelvic floor muscles and pelvic fascia and understands that seeking treatment for these issues is personal and a brave step towards feeling well.