Written by Kristin Westover, PT, MPT, CIMT
Pelvic pain often refers to pain in the area of a woman’s reproductive organs, but pelvic pain can be present in both males and females and can stem from other causes. Pelvic pain can arise from your digestive, reproductive, or urinary system. Pain can also arise from muscles and ligaments in the structures of the pelvic floor.
What is your Pelvic Floor?
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that form a sling or hammock, and are located at the bottom of the pelvis. They attach to the pubic bone in the front and the tailbone in the back. These muscles provide support to the bowel, bladder, and uterus (in women).
Causes of Pelvic Pain
Several types of conditions can cause pelvic pain. Some include:
- Pregnancy and childbirth can cause changes to the abdominal and pelvic floor musculature and joints
- Muscle imbalance or weakness of the pelvic floor, hips, and core
- Scar tissue after abdominal or pelvic surgery
- Organ prolapse (occurs when one or more pelvic organs drop from their normal position)
- Changes in muscles that control the bowel and bladder leading to leakage, incontinence, and constipation
Based on your symptoms and physical examination, a pelvic health physical therapist may recommend that you focus on either “up training “or down training” your pelvic floor musculature (the muscles that support your uterus, bladder and rectum).
- Up training: Consists of Kegel and core stabilization exercises and may be appropriate for conditions such as prolapse or incontinence, when strengthening is required for stability and support. Kegel exercises are exercises that are intended to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. Many people have the misconception that that Kegel exercises solve ALL pelvic floor matters, however that is untrue.
- Down training: Consists of relaxing your pelvic floor via stretching, deep breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques and may be helpful for conditions such as painful intercourse or overactive bladder. Some patients benefit from down training initially, followed by the initiation of an up training program.
Pelvic health physical therapy allows therapists to assess any issues a patient may be having with the pelvic floor. The physical therapist will create a treatment plan based on each individual patient. If you are experiencing any of these conditions, a consultation with a physical therapist and treatment of the pelvic floor can help.
Find out more about Pelvic Health Physical Therapy at Professional. We are dedicated to the overall health and well-being of our patients and will customize a physical therapy rehabilitation plan just right for you. Visit us at Professional Physical Therapy.