If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your lower torso, back, or pelvic region, you may benefit from pelvic floor therapy. This therapy can help patients with menstrual or pregnancy-related issues combat pain and improve their quality of life. Like most forms of physical therapy, it can be an effective alternative to surgery or pharmaceutical interventions. Many doctors also suggest pelvic floor therapy as part of an ongoing treatment plan that combines different treatment types. In this article, you can learn more about how pelvic floor therapy may help with your endometriosis symptoms or other causes of pelvic pain.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disease that affects over 200 million people worldwide. According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, Endometriosis is a menstrual disease that “occurs when tissue similar to the interior lining of the uterus, or endometrium, mistakenly migrates and implants in areas outside the uterus, primarily in the pelvic region.” As the patient’s hormones fluctuate throughout their menstrual cycle, the higher amounts of estrogen can cause the implants to grow.
These implants are what is referred to as endometriosis. They cling to other organs in the patient’s body and cause complications and resulting in pain to the patient. If the patient’s immune system can’t combat these implants, then they can continue to grow and cause damage to the organs they cling to including:
- internal bleeding
- bowel or urinary dysfunction
- painful intercourse
This damage can cause physical pain and psychological distress. Some cases are more severe than others and can cause severe pain or even permanent damage. If a patient’s immune system can counteract the implants, the patient’s endometriosis may be inactive and largely unnoticeable to the patient. Depending on the severity of the symptoms and damage, a patient with endometriosis may undergo monitoring to track its progress and may eventually require surgery to control the growth of the implants.
Endometriosis is commonly underdiagnosed, so learning the symptoms can help you identify and address the disease with your doctor. Here are some common symptoms of endometriosis that can help you or your doctor identify if you may need treatment:
- Painful periods
- Painful intercourse
- Pain or frequent infections related to bowel movements or urination
- Excessive bleeding during or outside of your menstrual cycle
What is pelvic floor therapy?
Pelvic floor therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on strengthening the muscles and muscle control in the patient’s pelvic cavity. These are the muscles that support the urinary and reproductive tracts, as well as the bladder and bowels. They also keep the vagina, rectum, and uterus in their respective places. As those muscles weaken, or become overly tight, they can shift or strain, causing pain or discomfort. As this issues become more severe, they can also cause dysfunction like:
- Frequent urination
- Uncontrollable urination
- Painful intercourse
- Erectile dysfunction
A pelvic floor therapist is a specialized physical therapist. They determine what is causing the dysfunction in their patients and they develop a treatment plan to relax and strengthen the muscles in the pelvic cavity. Treatments can include specific exercises, massage treatments, and additional education on how to use the pelvic floor to reduce pain and increase control over the muscle groupings.
A pelvic floor therapist can begin your treatment with an assessment. during this assessment, they test your core muscles to determine your core strength and endurance. They also have specific activities and positions they test to check the coordination of your pelvic floor muscles. Once you’ve been assessed, they create a specialized treatment plan. If you have any questions about what a pelvic floor therapist does, you can make an appointment with one of our physical therapists at living well balanced.
5 ways pelvic floor therapy can help with endometriosis
Here are five ways working with a pelvic floor therapist can help you manage your endometriosis:
Strengthen your pelvic floor
Your pelvic floor therapist can work with you to strengthen the muscles in your core and pelvic floor to ease any pain or discomfort and treat dysfunction. They can also help you retrain how you use your pelvic floor muscles to help reduce dysfunction. Pain and inflammation can put stress on muscles that may not be equipped to handle the pressure required to perform their natural purposes. Your therapist can help you train the muscles to gain control and correct the muscle usage to ease symptoms of your endometriosis.
Endometriosis can cause the muscles around your pelvic floor to contract protectively around areas with lesions or damage. This tension can cause pain and cramps. A pelvic floor therapist show you stretches that release those muscles. This can reduce the amount of pain and tension you feel and reduce strain on other muscles in your legs and back. Reducing the tension in your muscles can make intercourse and urination less painful and improve your quality of life.
Address symptoms of related conditions
When you have endometriosis, it can be easy to associate all your pelvic pain with the disease. However, there are several reasons that someone experiences pain in their pelvic region. Luckily, your pevlic floor therapist can help you identify them and treat them. They help prevent other issues from exasterbating your existing symptoms. For example, many people suffer from interstitial cystitis in addition to endometriosis, meaning the protective coating of their bladder is not fully developed. This results in frequent infections and discomfort. Your pelvic floor therapist can help you identify and treat these additional conditions.
One of the common side effects of endometriosis is something colloquially referred to as “endo belly.” The term refers to the bloating that can occur because of inflammation from endometriosis. When muscles are irritated, they swell causing, pain, organ dysfunction, and bloating. Additionally, when pelvic floor muscles are tight, they can cause spasms in the belly that result in swelling.For some, this can be a comfort issue, a psychological issue, or body image issue. Your pelvic floor therapist can help you relax these muscles. They can also work the lymphatic system in your belly to reduce bloating.
Understanding your endometriosis and different treatments can give you a sense of control over your disease. Education about the condition is one of the strongest tools you have to combat it and improve your quality of life. You can work with a pelvic floor therapist to learn more about your specific disease, its severity, and how best to treat it.
At Living Well Balanced, we offer a wide range of fitness and physical health services from caring and experienced professionals. We provide personal training and physical, occupational, and nutritional therapy to assist our clients in their health and wellness management. You can make an appointment with one of our occupational therapists to learn how they can benefit your treatment plan for injury recovery or prevention and chronic pain. If you have any questions, you can always give us a call at 212-579-2858 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our blog for more information about alternative therapies.