What Is A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist?
"What do you do?!"
We all know that when you meet someone new, maybe a parent on your kids’ new soccer team, eventually we are going to talk about what it is that you DO. Are you a banker, stay-at-home mom, nurse, teacher? My response is, "I am a physical therapist". Usually, people are satisfied with that and feel pretty confident that they can picture what my day at work is like, so we move on to who’s bringing snacks to the next game. After several soccer games, and a lot of sideline talking and getting to know each other, sometimes, I get to know people well enough that they feel comfortable asking me about their aches and pains. Sure, I will recommend some stretches or exercises for their knee or low back.
Then, on occasion, someone will then say, “Hey, can I come see you at your clinic for my knee?”. Well, not really. You see, I work at a urologist's office. “But... I thought you were a PT?”. Yup- I am a pelvic floor physical therapist.
“What does that mean?!
A pelvic floor physical therapist is a PT qualified to treat knees, backs, etc, but also has specialized training in treatment of the muscles inside your pelvis call the pelvic floor muscles, commonly referred to as the “Kegel” muscles. This unique group of muscles help control your bladder, bowels, and sexual function, as well as help support your body.
They are a very important part of the “core” group of muscles that we hear about when we go to the gym, but rarely does anyone at the gym say, “Make sure you are contracting your pelvic floor muscles correctly during that dead lift!”. Many pelvic floor PTs wish that there was more conversation about how these important muscles work, because a lot of injury and dysfunction may be prevented with a little bit of knowledge.
What types of patients do you see?
So, since my friend with the bad knee can’t come see me at my office, who would? The types of problems that a pelvic floor PT sees will usually fall into one of these categories:
- People experiencing bladder control problems including leaking urine, urinary frequency and urgency, difficulty emptying their bladder, bladder prolapse, and often, patients with frequent UTIs (urinary tract or bladder infections)
- People experiencing bowel control problems including leaking bowels, chronic constipation, bowel prolapse (rectocele), and inability to empty your bowels completely
- People experiencing sexual dysfunction including painful sexual activity, inability to maintain erections, and decreased sexual sensation
- People experiencing pelvic pain including pain in the genital region (all genders), pain with bladder, or pain with bowel emptying. Often, this pain may be due to underlying conditions such as IC (interstitial cystitis) or endometriosis
Our patient population includes all genders and all ages. In one day, I may see a 10-year-old with bedwetting issues, a 25-year-with testicle pain, a young woman who is unable to have penetrative sexual intercourse due to pain, and a 72-year-old post prostatectomy patient with urinary incontinence.
I know this for sure, I LOVE what I do. I am privileged to work with patients who will entrust me with some of their most private and intimate issues. I look forward to contributing to this forum, and hopefully, will help more people recognize that there is help for these types of problems.
The holiday season is among us and can be so stressful! Do you experience more flares during this season?