Women's Health: Treating Pelvic Floor Disorders
Let’s face it - talking about certain topics makes us uncomfortable. As children, many of us were taught that discussing bathroom habits and sexual issues was impolite, naughty, or out and out taboo. It’s no wonder then, as grown women, we often shy away from discussing topics related to bladder and bowel control, sexual discomfort and pain “down there” – symptoms of pelvic floor disorders.
We understand that many women are reluctant to share such intimate details. As physical therapists, the first step in treatment is to earn the patients’ trust, so they can feel free to discuss how they are feeling. At Good Shepherd, we take time to educate our patients about the pelvic floor, which consists of a group of muscles that acts like a sling to support the pelvic organs – the bladder, uterus, urethra, vagina and rectum. Contracting and relaxing these muscles controls bowel and bladder movements.
Several medical conditions and other factors can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, such as:
- Abdominal or back surgery
- Spinal cord injuries
- Diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes
- Trauma to the pelvic area caused by childbirth, sexual assault, falls or other accidents
If fact, more than half of women age 55 and older suffer from one or more of the problems caused by pelvic floor disorders, according to the American Urogynecologic Society. Symptoms include:
- Pain in groin, hip, legs or low back
- Uncoordinated muscle contractions causing the pelvic floor muscles to spasm
- Urinary issues, such as leaking, urgency, frequency, hesitancy or retention
- Bowel issues, for example: constipation, incontinence and rectal pain
- Pain or discomfort during intercourse
Good Shepherd therapists get to know our patients by listening closely to their concerns. Then, we develop a plan of treatment that addresses the patient’s goals and fits her lifestyle.
Treatment strategies often include pelvic floor exercises, retraining of muscles, posture recommendations and stretching. The body’s core is a tube, where abdominal, back, pelvic floor and diaphragm muscles all work together to build a strong trunk. We focus on strengthening (or relaxing) these muscles, while teaching patients to walk using proper posture with appropriate muscle firing.
Good Shepherd creates an environment where patients can talk freely about their symptoms and treatment. For more information about Women’s Health services at Good Shepherd, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422) or contact us.