Physiotherapy can alleviate, and in many cases cure the symptoms of incontinence, prolapse, pelvic pain and pregnancy related pain.
What is Women’s Health Physiotherapy?
Women’s Health Physiotherapy is the physical therapeutic treatment of disorders affecting the pelvis and pelvic floor muscles. There is growing evidence that physiotherapy can alleviate, and in many cases cure the symptoms of incontinence, prolapse, pelvic pain and pregnancy related pain.
How can Women’s Health Physiotherapy help my pelvic floor?
- The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles that support the pelvic organs and form the the birth canal and passages for urine and stool. The pelvic floor muscles support the pelvic organs and act as part of the core that supports the spine. These muscles need to be able to contract to keep us continent, but also they must relax to allow for urination, bowel movements, child birth and sexual intercourse. Problems with the pelvic floor can occur when these muscles are too weak (hypotonic) or too tight (hypertonic).
- A structured exercise program to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles is effective in reversing the symptoms in 80% of women. When the pelvic floor is having problems, the connective tissue of your abdomen, thighs, groins and low back can be affected.
How can Women’s Health Physiotherapy help me during pregnancy?
- Pelvic girdle pain and stress urinary incontinence are common among pregnant ladies. These symptoms usually occur as a result of hormonal changes and the increasing weight of your baby and uterus.
- The mounting pressure of the uterus on your bladder causes less room for urine storage and you may experience difficulty to stop the flow. You may notice that you leak urine when you sneeze or find it harder to hold your urine when you need to ‘go’. Urinary incontinence in pregnancy should not be ignored as research found that if you develop stress urinary incontinence during your pregnancy, or within 6 weeks following the birth of your baby, you are more likely to suffer from incontinence 5 years later.
- Pelvic floor exercises can be helpful to activate the correct muscles to maintain a strong pelvic floor through your pregnancy and beyond. 1 in 3 women experience low back pain during pregnancy whilst 1 in 5 experience pelvic girdle pain. This is often the result of increasing hormones, Relaxin and Oestrogen, that relaxing the ligaments which support your pelvis. In pregnancy the extra strain on these ligaments can cause pain and movement dysfunction. In such conditions the muscles supporting these ligaments become extra important in providing stability and control.
How can Women’s Health Physiotherapy help me post-natally?
- The immediate weeks after the delivery of your baby is an important time for your body. Your body undergoes many changes during pregnancy and continues to change post- natally. It is important to address any issues that occur at this time so as to prevent problems later in life. Vaginal delivery or caesarean can lead to pelvic floor trauma, perineal tears and pudendal nerve injury (the nerve which supplies your bladder and
pelvic floor). As a result, the pelvic floor can become dysfunctional and you may experience urinary or bowel urgency and/or incontinence, urinary frequency, incomplete emptying, pain on urination/defeacation and pain or discomfort with sexual intercourse. Diastasis Recti, separation of rectus abdominal muscles, often occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy when the abdominal muscles and linea alba are at their greatest stretch. Diastasis recti may make it harder for you to regain your tummy tone and return to your normal exercise routine. A Women’s Health Physiotherapist can also help with advice on return to exercise and healing of diastasis recti.
What are the physiotherapy techniques used for treating the pelvis/ pelvic floor dysfunction?
- Pelvic floor re-training and guided exercises
- Myo-fascial release of the connective tissue of the abdomen, hips and pelvis which support the pelvic floor
- Relaxation and breathing techniques
- Advice on toileting and positional modifications
- Assessment and treatment of any unresolved low back, hip or pelvic pain
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