By Nicole Achenbach, PT, DPT, OCS
To understand why AZ Sports Center has decided to offer pelvic floor physical therapy, let’s learn a little about the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a muscle that sits at the bottom of your pelvis like a hammock. You can access great videos and images of pelvic floor anatomy available, here, at MY favorite pelvic floor blog site. It plays an important role in bowel, bladder, and sexual function, as well as core strength and the management of intra-abdominal pressure (think weight lifting, running, jumping). Being that it is a muscle, it can experience dysfunction or injury just like any other muscle in your body. It can become too tight and need stretching; it can become weak and need strengthening; and it can work too hard and need relaxation. If this muscle is not functioning properly, you may experience incontinence (leaking of urine), pelvic or back pain, and more (further discussion of conditions that can be influenced by pelvic floor muscles here). Unfortunately, symptoms like these are very common:
· 23.7% of women over the age of 20 have at least one pelvic floor disorder (urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, fecal incontinence, or other emptying abnormalities)6.
· 28% of elite nulliparous (without children) athletes leak urine while participating in their sport7 as well as over 50% of gymnasts8 .
· Stress urinary incontinence (leaking of urine with activities like jumping, lifting, and sneezing) is estimated in 4%-35% of adult women4.
· 5.7-26.6% of women experience chronic pelvic pain1.
Now, these symptoms may be more COMMON than many of us realize, but they are not NORMAL and should be treated. Fortunately, there are a multitude of treatment options available for women...one of which is pelvic floor physical therapy.
“Would you like a complimentary and always confidential telephone call with our Pelvic Floor Specialist?”
Nikki would be happy to answer your questions on the phone today:
Although many women may not have heard of pelvic floor physical therapy, it is a growing treatment option worldwide. In France, up to twenty sessions of post-partum pelvic floor physical therapy is standard care (read a humorous account of a post-partum, American woman’s experience in France here). Even Olympic athletes in Rio will have pelvic floor physical therapists on staff (check it out!).
From Olympic athletes, to those of us on our couches watching the Olympics, pelvic floor dysfunction may be a problem. This is why Lois and the team have begun to offer this specialty treatment within the clinic walls. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, please mention it to your doctor or physical therapist ASAP so we can help get you on the road to recovery.
My training has been through the Herman & Wallace Institute (you can find me on their practitioner directory https://hermanwallace.com/). I am passionate about helping women with pelvic floor dysfunction and believe that no woman should accept these symptoms as a part of her life. Don’t waste another second dealing with incontinence, pelvic pain, or urgency in solitude. I look forward to meeting you and aiding in your journey to recovery.
1. Ahangari A. Prevalence of Chronic Pelvic Pain Among Women: An Updated Review. Pain Physician. 2014;17:E141–7.
2. Burgio K, Matthews KA, Engel BT. Prevalence, incidence and correlate of urinary incontinence in healthy, middle-age women. J Urology 1991; 146: 1255-59.
3. Carls C. The prevalence of stress urinary incontinence in high school and college-age female athletes in the midwest: implications for education and prevention. Urol Nurs. 2007 Feb;27(1):21-4, 39.
4. Luber KM. The definition, prevalence, and risk factors for stress urinary incontinence. Rev Urol.2004;6(Suppl 3):S3–S9.
5. Matthews, et al. (1991). “Prevalence, Incidence and Correlates of Urinary Incontinence in healthy, Middle-aged Women.” Journal of Urology. 146: 1255-1259.
6. Nygaard I. et al. . Prevalence of symptomatic pelvic floor disorders in US women. JAMA300, 1311–1316 (2008).
7. Nygaard IE, Thompson FL, Svengalis SL, Albright JP. Urinary incontinence in elite nulliparous athletes. Obstet Gynecol. 1994 Aug;84(2):183-7.
Thyssen HH, Clevin L, Olesen S, Lose G. Urinary Incontinence in Elite Female Athletes and Dancers. Int. Urogynecology J.2002;13(1):15–17.