Our new physiotherapy resident, Kathryn McGuire, has taken post-graduate training in rehabilitation of the pelvic floor and is excited to offer this service at Best Health Physiotherapy.
This type of physiotherapy involves the assessment and rehabilitation of the muscles that make up the pelvic floor. These muscles form a strong supportive sling inside the base of the pelvis. They regulate the storage and release of urine and feces, are involved in sexual activity and pleasure, and even contribute to the quality of our breathing and posture. When they are functioning well, most people are completely unaware of these muscles, but just like any other muscles in the body, problems can come up. Unlike with other muscles though, many people will suffer in silence when the pelvic floor starts to have issues.
Pelvic health is a sensitive topic that is hard to even bring up with family or friends, never mind a healthcare provider. Even so, we should all be talking about it, because pelvic floor dysfunction affects many of us and can cause so many different issues: urinary incontinence, urinary urgency (overactive bladder), constipation, fecal incontinence, pain with penetration, other types of pelvic pain, hip pain, low back pain, and sacroiliac joint pain. These issues can affect anyone, from young to old; from athletes to couch potatoes; from people who have had children to those who haven’t; and from women to men to anyone in between. Chances are good that you or someone you know is already dealing with problems in this area.
In Canada, urinary incontinence and/or urgency affects 1 in 4 people with vaginas and 1 in 9 people with prostates, and of those, only about 1 in 12 seek out treatment. We have come to accept that people will have incontinence after childbirth or a prostatectomy, and while it is not unusual or anything to be ashamed of, it is important to know that it can be treated! Incontinence and/or urgency of any kind can have a huge impact on quality of life and the ability to get out into the world, particularly in this COVID-19 impacted world where public washrooms can be difficult or impossible to access. The good news is that pelvic floor physiotherapy can help, and there is a large body of evidence that says it should be the first line of treatment for urinary incontinence and/or urgency.
Pelvic health physiotherapy generally involves an internal vaginal and/or rectal examination to assess the specific muscles that are contributing to your symptoms. This is of course, completely dependent on your comfort level and consent. On your first appointment, Kathryn will go through the reasons for the exam, what the process is like, and what you can expect from the assessment. The internal assessment can also be completed on your second appointment if you would like a chance to digest the information and come prepared. If you decide not to go with an internal assessment, there are still many other ways that you and Kathryn can work together to improve your symptoms.
Currently, Kathryn’s training is geared most specifically to treating symptoms of urinary incontinence and urgency. She is also comfortable working with patients who are struggling with constipation, hemorrhoids, and/or other bowel issues that could benefit from pelvic floor physiotherapy. If you are struggling with any of the above issues, reach out and speak with our staff about setting up an appointment.