Care for ‘Down There’ with Pelvic Floor Therapy
St. Luke’s Physical Therapist Mercedes Stein, PT, DPT,works with a patient on a Pilates machine at St. Luke’s Miller Creek Medical Clinic in Hermantown.
How physical therapy can help those with incontinence and pelvic pain in Duluth
“Pelvic floor issues are actually pretty common for both men and women,” said St. Luke’s Physical Therapist Mercedes Stein, PT, DPT. “But you don’t have to live with them! Pelvic floor therapy is a great way to address symptoms that may be holding you back from living the life you want.”
Pelvic floor therapy addresses dysfunction within the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are responsible for bowel and bladder function, sexual and reproductive function, and for supporting the pelvic organs.
When these muscles aren’t working correctly, you may experience things like:
- Urinary incontinence
- Fecal incontinence
- Difficulty emptying your bladder and bowels
- Bowel and bladder frequency and urgency
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Erectile dysfunction
- Pain during intercourse
Many experience symptoms like these after abdominal surgery, a hysterectomy, prostate or colon surgery, pelvic trauma and pelvic radiation. They can also appear during or after pregnancy (postpartum) or endometriosis.
“During the first appointment, your physical therapist will discuss your symptoms and make a plan to meet your goals,” said Mercedes. “They will also look at the areas near your pelvic floor, such as the back, hips and core. These muscle groups play a role in pelvic floor function.”
Both an external and internal exam will help your physical therapist understand exactly what’s going on. However, these are only performed if a patient is fully comfortable. “Many patients are very comfortable in our office,” said Mercedes, “but it is always an option to defer an internal exam.”
Treatment may include exercise, manual therapy, dry needling and cupping.
“Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction shouldn’t affect your quality of life or keep you from doing the things you love,” said Mercedes. “Helping patients treat these symptoms and seeing them reach their goals is the best part of my job!”