Physical Therapy for Endometriosis: Why and How?
Dealing with the pain of endometriosis can often be overwhelming. Making matters even harder is that what works for someone else may not work for you. We have all seen social media posts saying things like “I stopped eating (something)..." or "I saw the best (some kind of health care provider)..." and "...my pain went away, So everyone should do that, and your pain will go away too!”. If only that were true for everyone. While we may be happy for that person’s cure, it can be so frustrating when these "miracle cures" don’t work for you, and in some cases, another person’s “cure” may make your pain flare.
What role can a physical therapist play?
How does PT fit into this? Your physical therapist can and should be a knowledgeable health care provider that helps you navigate the complexity of pain reduction. Your PT can be someone who has a bit more time to spend with you (more than your MD often has) and will work with you to figure out what does and does not work for you. A good pelvic floor physical therapist should be part of your health care team, communicating with your MDs as needed and giving you options for pain management. We don’t prescribe medications or provide surgery, but we can help you to prepare for and recover from surgery and offer insights into medications, side effects, etc.
How do you find a “good” pelvic floor PT?
There are several online sites that offer “find a provider” links for PTs who have taken additional educational courses that allow them to specialize in caring for women with pelvic health issues. Some I'd recommend include...
There are PTs that have taken extensive continuing education courses and have taken exams that give them specialty certifications. This type of recognition is signified by “letters” following their name. Two that are important for you to look for are:
- PRPC- Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner
- WCS- Women’s Health Clinical Specialist
This type of recognition means that this Physical Therapist has done a lot of extra learning to provide high-quality care to their patients with pelvic floor and pain issues. Do you have to see someone with this designation? Absolutely not! There are many PT who are equally dedicated but have not taken the level of courses yet or have not taken the exams. The most important thing is the therapist’s dedication to you!
So, where do I start?
I strongly encourage a good Google search to look at Physical Therapy practices that state their commitment to helping women with pelvic issues, including pelvic pain on their website or social media platform. Google “pelvic floor physical therapy near me”. Call the practices and ask questions such as:
- Do you have a PT who is dedicated to pelvic floor therapy?
- Do you often see patients with endometriosis?
- Are there private exam rooms?
Communicating with your PCP
In many states, you will be required to have a referral from your OB/Gyn, PCP or other primary health care provider to start Physical Therapy, especially if you will be using your insurance to cover this care. In some cases, your doctor may have already recommended PT, BUT you may have to ask if this is something you wish to pursue. Don’t hesitate to ask! Your doctor may have a PT that he or she works with and could also provide a good recommendation.
It is always so important to be an advocate for your own health care and having a PT to help you navigate pain reduction can be an invaluable resource for many women!
Have you had any of the following surgeries for your endo?