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Today’s physiotherapists are practicing in a variety of unique settings broadening the spectrum of medical care categories. This is especially true for physiotherapists with training in pelvic health physiotherapy. As some of the topics discussed in your pelvic health assessment may be less likely to present in daily conversation, it is common to leave with the statement ‘How did I not know about this before?’. Let’s bust some of the most common misconceptions about pelvic floor rehabilitation.
‘Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy is only for new mothers.’
The pelvic floor anatomy system is not unique to the female anatomy – everyone has a pelvic floor! Although childbirth is a common reason to have a referral to a pelvic floor trained physiotherapist, it is certainly not the only reason for a visit. Did you know men also require pelvic floor rehabilitation for a variety of concerns such as pelvic pain, erectile dysfunction, pre/post-operative prostate related interventions, gastrointestinal and bowel related disorders and more?
‘Urinary incontinence is normal after childbirth.’
The dreaded trampoline jump, many mothers know so well; although as common as 1/3 of women will experience urinary incontinence at some point of their lifespan, it certainly is not a normal finding. This can be due to completely reversible and treatable causes discussed in your pelvic health visit.
‘I just have a small bladder’.
A famous phrase that many individuals with overactive bladders use. Did you know that in many cases, with the correct exercises and bladder training you may actually be able to make the long road trip, or not plan your outing or fitness around the closest washroom? In healthy bladders, we would anticipate approximately 8 voids per day with 2-3 hour gaps in between each void. Ask your pelvic health physiotherapist to help with bladder voiding frequency!
‘Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy is Kegels.’
If it were that easy – we would have cured most pelvic health conditions by now! Let me reassure you it is so much more than one muscle group. Pelvic Floor trained physiotherapists will provide education and feedback regarding the pairing of your pelvic floor with the rest of your musculoskeletal system. Your physiotherapist will assess the correct prescription for an underactive or overactive muscular system. The exercises will be applied in a functional and individualized goal orientated approach.
‘Painful intercourse is normal.’
Pleasurable intercourse contributes positively to quality of life in many individuals. There are a variety of reasons intercourse may suddenly become painful such as childbirth, post-operatively, with scarring, a fall/trauma or during major hormonal changes which alter the hydration and blood flow to the tissue. Please do not be shy to discuss this with your physiotherapist, it is important!
‘Endometriosis is rare.’
Endometriosis may affect up to 1 in 10 women. Endometriosis affects 70% of women with chronic pelvic pain (Carter, 1994). Unfortunately, for many of these women there is often a delay in diagnosis of endometriosis resulting in unnecessary suffering and reduced quality of life. Pelvic floor physiotherapy may help in symptom management of this common source of pelvic, low back or abdominal discomfort.
‘I cannot lift or exercise, I have a pelvic organ prolapse’.
Exercise and movement that bring you joy is important. With the appropriate education, muscular foundation and strength there is no reason you cannot continue to participate in the exercise you love. Your physiotherapist will help ensure the treatment goals match your own goals!
‘Clogged and blocked milk ducts in breastfeeding mothers always require antibiotics.’
There are many cases where, left to the point of infection, medical intervention will recommend the use of antibiotics as the appropriate course of action for clogged milk ducts. However, quite often a physiotherapist will be able to offer some treatment solutions to improve your chance of avoiding mastitis. Pelvic floor trained Physiotherapists are also knowledgeable in women’s health and can help you with many treatment options such as therapeutic ultrasound, taping, acupuncture, massage, thermal modalities and education.
Physiotherapists are primary health care providers which means you do not require a medical prescription or referral to visit. However, it is always advised that you discuss your visit with your entire medical team for an inclusive and cohesive team based care approach. Conservative management of pelvic health conditions should always be the first line of defense. Whether it grants the opportunity to avoid or prolong medical intervention or surgery, or it offers the opportunity to educate and protect your medical intervention in the pre or post operative journey, your physiotherapist should be along your side.
Megan Ferrone is a Physiotherapist at Spire Physiotherapy. You can find Megan and many other great physiotherapists in the find a physiotherapist section of our website www.mbphysio.org.
This article is produced by the Advertising Department of the Winnipeg Free Press, in collaboration with Manitoba Physiotherapy Association