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Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

Posted May 15th, 2022

While it my not be front of mind when it comes to your muscular health, your pelvis actually hosts a number of important muscles! Called the pelvic floor, these muscles support your organs, control urinary and much more. Here our Stittsville physiotherapists explain how these muscles can be impacted by pelvic floor dysfunction.

The muscles in your pelvis can serve many purposes in both supporting overall health and sexual function. Tehy control the frequency and flro of urination, help with passing bowel movements and can affects a number of other bodily functions too. Because of the location of these muscles in our body, they may cause serious pain and discomfort if they become injured - commonly called pelvic floor dysfunction. 

Physical therapy may be able to help you recover to function and feeling in the muscles of your pelvic floor, strengthening them and building them up to prevent future injury. If not treated this way, symptoms of injuries like urinary incontinence or organ prolapse can become facts of life.

What causes dysfunction in my pelvic muscles?

The precise cause of your injury or dysfunction in your pelvic floor actually may be difficult to narrow down. This is because the symptoms of injuries sustained in your pelvic floor can actually look quite similar to symptoms caused by entirely different health conditions.

The difficulty in pinning down the cause can also be attributed to the diverse range of possible ways the muscles of your pelvic floor could be adversely impacted. Some common causes of injuries or other pelvic floor dysfunction include:

  • Ageing
  • Childbirth
  • Pregnancy
  • Overactive/tight muscles
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Chronic Constipation 
  • An Episiotomy (during delivery)
  • Traumatic Pelvic Injuries
  • Lower levels of estrogen after menopause

What are some of the most common symptoms of pelvic dysfunction?

While the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction may appear as pain in that specific area of that part of your body, generally the symptoms of pelvic dysfunction that do require physiotherapy may take on very different manifestations in your body.  

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of injuries, strains or dysfunction in your pelvis can include:

  • Urinary Urgency
  • Groin pain
  • Painful Urination
  • Constipation
  • Urinary/Bowel Incontinence
  • Increased Urinary Frequency
  • Lower Back Pain Without An Obvious Cause
  • Reduced Sexual Sensation or Pain during intercourse

If you notice that any of the above conditions are coming up in your daily life relatively frequently, you may be experiencing dysfunction in your pelvic floor. While many people may accept these symptoms simply as the "price of aging" this doesn't have to be true! Physiotherapy treatments offered by physiotherapists may be able to help you to recover control over your body's functions and reduce any discomfort you may be feeling.  

What treatments are involved in pelvic physiotherapy?

Physiotherapists at a number of our other MotionWorks facilities offer treatment to patients suffering from pelvic floor pain or dysfunction suing a number of different methods. And, while these treatments will be customized to your specific case of pelvic floor dysfunction, you don't need to currently be in pain in order to seek physiotherapy for your pelvic floor muscles. 

In fact, physiotherapy shines as a preventive treatment - supporting the strength and mobility of the muscles in your pelvis (or any other part of your body) to prevent injuries or dysfunction from ever occurring in the first place! 

The methods used to treat and prevent the development of pelvic dysfunction fall under two large umbrellas: passive and active physical therapies. 

Passive Physiotherapy for Your Pelvic Floor

Passive physiotherapy is called this because it doesn't require our patients to take action themselves. During passive physiotherapy treatments, physical therapists treat their clients to help relax tight muscles, encourage healing of injuries, and assess what exercises or activities might be best suited for our patient's particular case. Motionworks physiotherapists offer a number of passive physiotherapy treatments for pelvic floor issues in our patients, including:

  • Manual Therapy - Our physiotherapists offer a number of manual therapy techniques (tissues & joints) depending on the root cause of your pain to help loosen and relax seized or spasming muscles.
  • Myofascial Release & other tissue techniques (cupping, dry needling, etc) - When we have identified the source of pelvic pain as residing in a specific muscular trigger point, we use physical stimulation to release stress and tension from the identified source in your pelvic floor, low back, and buttock.

Active Physiotherapy for Your Pelvic Floor

Active physiotherapy treatments are exercises specifically prescribed for a client by a physiotherapist based on their professional assessment of the root cause of their discomfort or pain. These activities and exercises, help to strengthen muscles, encourage relaxation and stretch tight muscle groups.

The exercises that physiotherapists prescribe for pelvic floor issues will be hugely dependent on the specific root cause of their discomfort, but generally involve exercises, stretches and relaxation techniques to do at home.  Kegels are NOT the ONLY or right answer for all!

Always wait for a physiotherapist's prescription of an exercise before engaging injured, pained, or stiff muscles. If you attempt exercises or activities without consulting your physiotherapist, you may cause yourself further injury and pain!

Are you experiencing any symptoms of pelvic pain or dysfunction?

Our team in Stittsville are here provide information and connect you with a pelvic physiotherapist.

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(613) 831-4054