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The importance of pelvic health and how pelvic health physiotherapy can help

Achieve optimal pelvic health with physiotherapy and decrease the need for surgery

If you don’t know much about pelvic health and why it’s important, you’re not alone.

For some, speaking about pelvic issues is uncomfortable or considered taboo, while others may feel that certain pelvic issues, like urine leakage or pelvic pain, are normal and something they have to live with. But nothing is further from the truth.

“It’s very much a topic that doesn’t get talked about the same way knee pain does or a shoulder problem does but people are dealing with it,” said Lee Gordon, Physiotherapist and co-owner of Lake Country Physiotherapy in Orillia, who also practices pelvic floor rehabilitation.

Despite pelvic issues being common, Gordon said there are treatment options that don’t involve surgery.  

“There are things you can do about it as opposed to living with it or struggling with it…it can have a big impact on quality of life, and sometimes the exercises or strategies we use are really simple it’s just being comfortable enough to ask for help,” she said, adding that educating the public and healthcare practitioners is key to getting help to those who are affected.

The pelvic floor muscles: where are they and what do they do?

The pelvic bones form a ring and connect your spine to your legs. Your pelvic floor muscles are located at the bottom of this ring. They are a group of muscles that form a sling, connecting from the pubic bone to the tailbone. They are just like any other muscles in our body and have many important functions:

  • They are part of your core muscles and function as part of your core in terms of keeping your spine and your pelvis stable and adaptable.
  • They have a continence function so they’re responsible for preventing urine leakage when you don’t want to pee, but also need to be flexible enough to allow urination and bowel movements.
  • They have a sexual function, with these muscles contracting and relaxing with sexual activity.
  • They have a supportive function, supporting the internal organs in our pelvis, like the bladder, rectum, and the uterus in women.

Gordon said when our pelvic floor muscles are functioning well, they’re working without conscious thought, however, when they’re dysfunctional it can lead to:

  • Urinary issues including urine incontinence (urine leakage) which may happen with coughing, laughing, jumping and/or being unable to “make it” to the washroom in time. A strong sense of urgency and/or increased frequency of urination. Difficulty initiating the flow of urine and/or feeling like the bladder is not emptying fully.
  • Pelvic organ prolapse, which happens when the organs that are supported by your pelvic floor muscles come out of their normal position due to weak pelvic floor muscles.
  • Pelvic pain such as experiencing pain and discomfort during sexual activity and/or with functional activities like sitting and walking.

Seeking treatment from a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist before considering surgery

A pelvic physiotherapist has the ability to do an internal exam which is considered the gold standard of assessment and treatment of the pelvic floor muscles, Gordon said. It allows the practitioner to palpate the muscles to see how they’re functioning in real-time, providing bio feedback that assists in the creation of an individualized treatment plan involving the rehabilitation and retraining of those muscles to restore proper function.

Treatment can not only help improve the outcome if you do require surgery, but in many cases, vastly improves issues and can even eliminate the need for surgery altogether. Gordon said the evidence is out there, especially for incontinence and pelvic pain, that pelvic floor training should be the first line of defense before medications and surgery, which is a less-invasive alternative for many sufferers.

“Treatment is well worth looking into,” Gordon added, “Sometimes very little needs to be done to have a huge impact on one’s quality of life.”

If you are looking for relief from pelvic pain and other issues, book a consultation with a pelvic health physiotherapist at Lake Country Physiotherapy by calling 705-327-7876 today! Contact them or visit their website to learn more.