What is pelvic health physical therapy?
The words ‘physical therapy’ may have all sorts of connotations, depending on your experience. If you are or were an athlete or played sports at some point, it might be recovery after a sports injury. If you’ve had a joint replacement or other orthopedic surgery, PT might make you think of learning to use a walker, or ride a stationary bike, or use overhead pulleys. If it has been a long time since you first experienced PT, or you haven’t had any personal experience at all, you might think of some basic exercise, a hot pack, and an ultrasound machine.
The good news is, pelvic health physical therapy is so much more than all of those experiences described above. A pelvic health physical therapist has a graduate degree, most commonly a doctorate in physical therapy, and extensive additional training in all things pelvic floor. Pelvic health physical therapists are typically experts in the in the musculoskeletal system (think: muscles and joints) and then add the extra skill of knowing all the muscles in and around the pelvis, and how to perform internal pelvic floor assessments to determine how these muscles are working and feeling. It takes some dedication and thirst for knowledge, as well as a whole lot of passion to be a pelvic health physical therapist.
What does a pelvic health physical therapy session look like?
Is an internal assessment required?
Nothing is ever required in physical therapy. An internal pelvic floor assessment, either done vaginally or rectally, is often a recommended component of a full physical assessment to address concerns in pelvic health PT, although it is certainly not our only measure or treatment. We also look at other contributing areas of the body, like your back, hips, core, and breathing, just to name a few!
So is a pelvic PT like an OBGYN? Or a midwife? What about a doula?
While we love babies in pelvic health PT, and we adore working with OBGYNs, midwives, and doula, we aren’t all interchangeable. Pelvic PTs are trained in the neuro-musculoskeletal systems, which means we know all about muscle strength, coordination, endurance, relaxation, and function. We don’t deliver babies, and we aren’t experts in the specific reproductive organ systems or specific diseases. We don't do imagining like x-rays or ultrasounds, and we don't order tests like bloodwork or hormone panels. We do know how to spot things that aren’t in our scope of practice, and we will help guide you to the right provider and treatment if it isn’t with us.
Who should see a pelvic health physical therapist?
Everyone with a pelvis! But here's a list of just a few things we specialize in treating:
Pregnancy related pain
Postpartum Recovery (vaginal or c-section deliveries)
Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction
Urinary Incontinence - including leaking with coughing, sneezing, running, jumping, laughing, intercourse, and urgency
Urinary Urgency or Frequency
Irritable Bowl Syndrome Symptoms
Low Back Pain
Dyspareunia or Painful Sex
Menopause Related Pelvic Pain
After Pelvic Cancer Treatment (anorectal cancers, gynecological cancers, prostate cancer, urological cancer, etc)
Before and After Gender Affirming Surgery
After Abdominal Surgeries
Still have questions? Send us a message and we'd love to chat more!