The Propel Blog

How Physiotherapy Can Improve Your Pelvic Health

Posted on: October 16th, 2012 by Laurie Plouffe No Comments

 

Many women don’t understand that physiotherapy — or physical therapy — can benefit pelvic health. As many as 50 percent of women, between the ages of 50 and 79, will be diagnosed with a condition called Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP). In some cases, symptoms of this condition are so mild they require little or no treatment. In other cases, women may eventually need surgical intervention to reverse their symptoms.

However, by paying attention to pelvic health, women may be able to avoid severe symptoms of POP. The sooner women begin to focus on pelvic health, the less likely they will be to experience any symptoms at all.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) occurs when weakened connective tissues begin to stretch or pull away from the pelvic bone structure. This allows pelvic organs to move toward the pelvic floor. The most common factors causing POP are pregnancy and childbirth. However, a prior pelvic injury, obesity, smoking and genetic predisposition can also contribute.

In mild cases, a woman is unaware she has POP, and it will be diagnosed by her doctor during her annual pelvic exam. These cases are usually monitored, and women can use physiotherapy to help rebuild pelvic muscle strength. In other cases, symptoms are more severe and the uterus or another organ may even prolapse into the vaginal canal.

Severe symptoms of POP usually require surgical intervention. Surgery always poses some level of risk, but transvaginal mesh implants — used to repair POP — have been linked to high numbers of serious health complications. Mesh erosion is one of the most serious, some women affected by this have filed vaginal mesh lawsuits. Physiotherapy can be used proactively to improve pelvic health and reduce the chances of developing more severe cases of POP.

Physiotherapy for Pelvic Health

  • Kegel Exercises. These are one of the most basic exercises women can do on their own to improve vaginal tone and pelvic floor strength. The sooner women begin doing them, the better. When done every day, studies have shown that women have less chance of developing severe symptoms of POP and/or urinary incontinence.
  • Electrical Stimulation. Doctors can use electrical stimulation to exercise severely weakened pelvic floor muscles. Once the muscles are strengthened, women can use Kegels, yoga, Pilates and other exercises that focus on maintaining core strength and pelvic muscle support.
  • Pelvic Physical Therapy. There are physical therapists who specialize in pelvic health. They can help women design a daily exercise routine to target their weak muscle groups, maintain pelvic health, and provide information and feedback regarding healthy postural techniques, which has also been linked to reducing symptoms of POP.
  • Pelvic Massage. Massage techniques that focus on connective tissue and myofascial tissue layers can help to realign organs and facilitate healing. Some of the most effective techniques include Shiatsu, Myofascial Release and Maya Massage.

Physiotherapy is so successful at restoring pelvic health that both the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that non-invasive physical therapy should be prioritized when treating mild to moderate POP. This can often prevent women from experiencing the health complications associated with surgical treatments.

Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.

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