Endometriosis is a common gynecological condition that leaves many women experiencing chronic pelvic pain, even in its mildest form. Although hormone treatments and surgery may not be necessary for most women with this condition, the pain can be difficult to manage. One approach that helps many women find relief from endometriosis is pelvic floor physical therapy. Here are some tips on this effective treatment.
Understand What Is Involved
Physical therapy is a treatment aimed at supporting the musculoskeletal system by improving movement and mobility so that bodily functions can be restored. Physical therapists are licensed healthcare professionals who are trained in this field.
Pelvic floor physical therapy focuses on improving the pelvic floor muscles and the abdominals. Pelvic floor physical therapists help women experiencing bladder or bowel incontinence, urinary urgency or frequency, pelvic or abdominal pain, constipation, pain during sexual activity, pregnancy and postpartum pain, abdominal muscle separation, and prolapse.
It involves performing exercises focused on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles span the bottom of the pelvis and support the vagina, uterus, bowel, and bladder. In addition to supporting each of these organs, the muscles provide stability to the pelvis overall.
A well-rounded pelvic floor physical therapy regimen for endometriosis involves stretches, manual techniques, lifestyle tips, and strengthening exercises designed to optimize the function of the pelvic floor muscles. Here are some recommendations for getting the most out of this effective treatment.
Learn How Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Helps Endometriosis Pain
Adhesions are a common occurrence for women with endometriosis. These are tissues that form while the body is healing and can bind two structures together. They may occur because of endometriosis itself, injury, or surgery. However, untreated endometriosis may cause adhesions even in women who do not get surgery for it. Regardless of their cause, these adhesions often cause pain.
For women who have endometriosis, the pain related to adhesions and lesions can spur the surrounding muscles to contract in an attempt to protect the area from pain. Over time, this can lead to muscle tightness and pain in the pelvic floor, abdomen, and back. Physical therapy addresses the musculoskeletal system and soft tissue dysfunction that contributes to this type of pain.
Determine Whether You Need Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy For Your Endometriosis
Although pelvic floor physical therapy is not necessary for every woman with endometriosis, anyone who is experiencing abdominal, pelvic, or back pain – especially if it interferes with their daily activities, sexual activity, work, or exercise should consult with a pelvic floor physical therapist to determine whether the abdominal or pelvic floor muscles are contributing to their symptoms.
Know What To Expect At Your Appointment
During the first session of pelvic floor physical therapy for endometriosis, the therapist will ask about your symptoms and medical history. They may review what you have already tried for your symptoms and what seems to help, your recreational and work activities, and your treatment goals. The exercises recommended in pelvic floor physical therapy will be tailored to each individual’s conditions, abilities, and objectives.
There’s also an educational component to pelvic floor physical therapy. The therapist will discuss the anatomy of the abdomen and pelvic floor and explain how those areas relate to endometriosis and your symptoms. They may also provide some breathing techniques and other tips that can be completed at home.
In subsequent sessions, the therapist will check the strength and flexibility of your abdomen, hips, pelvis, and back, in addition to carrying out a pelvic floor muscle assessment. This may entail a simple internal exam in which the therapist will insert a gloved finger into the vagina to assess the strength of the pelvic floor and determine which muscles are contributing to your symptoms. However, those who are not comfortable with this type of exam can discuss other options for the therapist to assess the pelvic area.
The frequency and length of therapy sessions needed will depend on the individual and their symptoms. However, studies have shown that endometriosis patients often experience an improvement in their pain after just six sessions.
Don’t Avoid Physical Therapy Because You Are Worried About Pain
Some women worry that pelvic floor physical therapy will cause them additional pain. Although it is true that it can be uncomfortable to start moving the body in certain ways it has not moved before, the therapist will always stay within your comfort level and respect your feedback. If one approach is causing pain, communicate that to your therapist immediately and they will adapt the treatment plan accordingly.
Reach Out to the Women’s Healthcare Professionals
If you have endometriosis symptoms or have been diagnosed with endometriosis and would like to learn more about treatment options, make an appointment with the women’s healthcare professionals at Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness today.