If you are planning to begin pelvic physical therapy soon, you may be wondering what to expect. It is normal to be nervous ahead of your first appointment, but keep in mind that pelvic floor physical therapists are highly trained professionals who not only possess extensive experience helping people with pelvic conditions, but also the compassionate approach needed to help people through what can sometimes be an uncomfortable process.
The specific steps involved in this type of therapy depend on your condition. Your physical therapist will tailor each session to help you progress toward your goals. The first appointment will be devoted to assessing your condition so they can design an effective treatment plan to restore your mobility and reduce your pain.
During the exam, your physical therapist will be looking at your breathing patterns, posture, and the flexibility and strength of your spine, abdomen, and hips to determine what can be contributing to your issues.
Provide your therapist with as much information as possible about the symptoms you are experiencing and where you feel pain so they can best address your problem. Patients are encouraged to bring detailed notes to their sessions in addition to providing information about anything that alleviates or improves their pain. The therapist will also conduct a thorough review of your medical history.
Your therapist will ask you to move around so they can assess certain functions. Therefore, patients are advised to dress comfortably for each session. You will be asked to stand, sit, and walk to pinpoint potential issues in your joints, bones, and muscles that could be causing or contributing to your dysfunction or pain.
There will also be a physical examination, which may include an internal exam. Physical therapists are aware that this can be uncomfortable for some patients, so they carry out each step slowly and deliberately and inform you what they are doing at every moment.
Although you may pause the exam at any time or ask to skip it, it is recommended because it provides the therapist with valuable information that can help pinpoint the cause of your dysfunction or discomfort, which means they may be able to treat it more quickly so you can get back to normal sooner.
How Many Times Do You Have To Go?
Like all types of physical therapy, pelvic floor physical therapy is a journey. Although it is very effective, the types of problems that it addresses cannot be solved in just a session or two. The first session represents a big step toward full recovery, but patients should not expect to notice a big difference afterward.
The precise amount of time that it takes to heal varies depending on the issue being addressed. However, many patients will start to experience noticeable relief after six to eight one-hour sessions.
Pelvic floor physical therapy relies on a variety of treatment tools, techniques, and exercises that will be selected by the therapist depending on the patient’s condition and treatment goals. Here is a look at some of the components that might be included.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Also known as Kegel exercises, these movements strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor by contracting and relaxing them. They are particularly suited to those with stress urinary incontinence, and they can also improve sexual pleasure and health by improving blood circulation to the vagina, relaxing vaginal muscles, and increasing lubrication.
Electrical Stimulation Therapy
This technique delivers painless electrical impulses through electrodes on the skin aimed at treating muscle spasms, pain, swelling, and weakness. It may also be carried out at home using a portable unit.
Biofeedback is a common approach to retraining the muscles in the pelvic floor. It uses special sensors to monitor these muscles while you relax or clench them. The feedback that it provides to the therapist can point to which muscles need to be strengthened to improve control over your pelvic floor muscle functioning.
Many therapists will use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and acupuncture to help calm your mind and body. This can reduce your pain and emotional distress while also relieving certain other symptoms.
Weighted Vaginal Cones
Depending on your problem, your therapist may ask you to use cone-shaped devices of increasing weight that are inserted into the vagina and held in place with pelvic muscle contractions to help increase strength.
Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Painful?
The goal of pelvic floor physical therapy is to improve symptoms, so your therapist will do their best to avoid causing you any pain. However, you may be asked to recreate positions that are currently causing you pain in your initial assessment. For example, if you feel pain in your lower back when you bend over, the therapist may want to see this movement to observe how your back is moving. However, these brief assessments should not aggravate symptoms or cause further pain.
Reach Out to Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness
To find out more about how to manage pelvic floor conditions such as prolapse, get in touch with the women’s healthcare professionals at Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness.