Pelvic Floor Muscle Dysfunction is a term used to describe bladder, bowel, pelvic pain and/or sexual problems related to restrictions or malfunctioning of the muscles and nerves of the pelvic floor.
For more than a decade, Phoenix Physical Therapy’s talented therapists have built a respected reputation as the problem solvers that local and regional gynecologists, obstetricians, urologists and colorectal specialists and other doctors often call when confronted with a gender-specific medical “mystery.”
Many Phoenix patients have suffered with pelvic floor muscle dysfunction for years and have consulted numerous physicians in a variety of specialties, without relief or a clear understanding of their condition. When primary care physicians and specialists cannot find anything wrong on “the inside” they may consider the “outside”, the muscles of the pelvic floor which act as the gatekeeper to many internal organs and urinary and bowel elimination. However, many medical providers are less familiar with how muscles, connective tissues and joints can cause pain and disruption of the pelvic floor.
In recent years, it has been the field of physical therapy that has discovered that tight, weak, spasmed, uncoordinated muscles of the pelvic floor, lower abdominals, lumbar spine and even hips are the primary cause of a wide range of pelvic floor symptoms. Experience with thousands of patients has produced data that demonstrates that highly specialized physical therapy provides understanding, education, effective treatment and relief of pelvic floor issues.
Women of all ages may experience symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. Urinary issues include leaking, urgency, frequency, hesitancy or retention; bowel issues include constipation, incontinence, and rectal pain; sexual issues include Dyspareunia, vestibular pain in women and erectile dysfunction or perineal pain in men. Even persistent hip pain can have an underlying condition related to the pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic Floor Muscle dysfunction is an embarrassing subject for patients to discuss with physicians, family and friends. At Phoenix Physical Therapy, we believe that the best outcomes are achieved when patients are fully informed, invested partners in the rehabilitation process. We listen closely to patients’ concerns and then work together to plan treatment strategies which are individualized for each patient after a thorough evaluation. Our treatment strategies may include (and are not limited to) biofeedback (computer assisted exercise) for the pelvic floor muscles, retraining of uncoordinated muscles, and strengthening, postural training, stretching and restoration of muscle length and function through manual treatment techniques.
Incontinence is the most common symptom of pelvic floor dysfunction. “Fifty percent of adult women will experience incontinence at some point,” states Jane Kaufman, PT, M.Ed., BCB-PMD, president and founder of Phoenix Physical Therapy, but with proper strengthening, the data shows there’s an 85-percent chance of complete resolution.” Incontinence is not a normal part of aging despite what the public is all too often led to believe. Incontinence can be treated successfully, but often popular strengthening exercises such as Kegels, are not appropriate for a patient. “We spend a great deal of time with each individual client to determine the best course of treatment given the patient’s specific symptoms,” says Jane Kaufman.
Pelvic organ prolapse is another common example of a challenge many women face after childbirth or as they age. Think of prolapse as a hernia that mostly affects women. When the muscles that hold the pelvic organs become weak or stretched, the organs – the bladder, uterus, small bowel, rectum – can drop from their normal location and push against the wall of the vagina. Strengthening or stretching the appropriate muscles, altering behaviors around the symptoms, and empowering the patient to understand how to keep the problem to a minimum is all part of Phoenix’s treatment strategy.
While incontinence (urinary or fecal) is often the primary reason for a patient’s need for treatment, there are many other factors listed below that warrant evaluation and treatment. Most people think these challenges only apply to older patients. In fact, many conditions affect men and women alike, young and old. “More than 25 million Americans have urinary incontinence and the experience can leave them feeling ashamed, socially isolated, and depressed. Patients need to know that there are options other than pads or diapers, medications or surgery,” notes Jane Kaufman, President of Phoenix Physical Therapy and a board certified clinician in Pelvic Muscle Dysfunction Biofeedback. “This is not a normal part of aging and is a condition that can greatly improve if treated correctly.” By teaching patients how to change behaviors surrounding toileting concerns, strengthening and changing muscle function through biofeedback, altering bladder signals with muscle stimulation and empowering patients with knowledge to alter the negative effects of this problem, patients gain control and successfully resolve their problem.
Incontinence symptoms can accompany other problems associated with the pelvic floor muscles such as those listed below. Phoenix Physical Therapy successfully treats these relatively common problems which include, but are not limited to:
- Urinary incontinence
- Urinary urgency and frequency
- Urinary retention
- Frequent night time voiding and/or bed wetting
- Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Post hysterectomy
- Post partum
- Pelvic pain
- Lichens sclerosis
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Pelvic congestion
- Rectal prolapse
- Fecal incontinence
- Anal fissures
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome