Women's Pelvic Health Services

Atlas Physical Therapy is recognized as having one of the most prominent Women’s Health therapy specialists in the Jacksonville area. Each individual’s program is designed to correct their particular circumstances. Typically, therapies to help pelvic floor disorders include:

  • Musculoskeletal Evaluation
  • Electromyography (biofeedback) evaluation of the pelvic floor muscles
  • Bladder diary and pelvic floor education
  • Instruction/training of the pelvic floor muscles during lifting and exertion coupled with proper breathing
  • Pelvic floor muscle re-education/strengthening/training using biofeedback
  • Instruction in proper posture for fecal elimination
  • Electrical stimulation for pelvic floor re-education and strengthening (as needed)
  • Abdominal stabilization/Core 4 exercises for pelvic girdle support

Urinary Incontinence

“What is Urinary Incontinence?”

Urinary incontinence refers to any time that you lose urine when you don’t want to. Along with leaking, there may be other symptoms:

  • Urgency: A strong desire to urinate, even when the bladder is not full. Pelvic discomfort or pressure sometimes accompanies this.
  • Frequency: Urinating more than six to eight times a day or more than once every two hours (with normal fluid intake).
  • Nocturia: Awakening from sleep because of the urge to urinate. This varies with age and is not necessarily abnormal until it occurs regularly more than two or three times a night.

Fecal Incontinence

“What is Fecal Incontinence?”

Fecal incontinence is having an uncontrolled bowel movement. Frank fecal incontinence is loss of solid or liquid stool. Precursor symptoms include soiling, fecal urgency, and flatulence (gas loss). Although a person may feel as though a bowel movement occurs when it is not intended, fecal incontinence refers to the repeated occurrence of unwanted bowel movements.

Causes of fecal incontinence:

  1. Muscle damage – Common in childbirth with forceps and episiotomy deliveries. This may also result from rectal surgery, inflammatory bowel disease, or an abscess in the perirectal area.
  2. Nerve damage – Childbirth, severe constipation, diabetes, spinal cord tumors, and multiple sclerosis can all have damaging effects on the nerves, especially the puedendal nerve, in the rectal sphincter that control bowel movements.
  3. Decreased elasticity – Surgery, radiation, and childbirth can shock and scar the rectum, causing it to stiffen.
  4. Anal sphincter mechanical dysfunction – Muscle and fascia strain sometimes occurs post delivery due to straining when voiding.

Treatment

Physical therapists use a variety of methods to help their patients correct pelvic floor dysfunction. Physical therapy exercises and modalities can strengthen and coordinate pelvic floor muscles. Bladder retraining can assist by regaining regular urinary cycles. Additionally, lifestyle choices, such as different food and drink options, may be discussed so that the bladder will be less irritable. Together, you and your therapist can help you regain proper functioning of your bladder and life activities.

Bottom Line

Maybe you are seeking help because you are having pain during intercourse and your significant other is becoming impatient. Maybe you are scared to leave the house for fear of leaking urine in public, so you have stopped your daily walks around the neighborhood for fear of running into a neighbor.

A women’s health physical therapist is someone who has extensive training and knowledge about issues directly related to women as they move through different stages of life.

Comprehensive Women’s Therapy

Effective non-surgical treatment for fecal and/or urinary stress and urge incontinence. Proven behavioral interventions include progressive pelvic floor muscle exercises, biofeedback and electrical stimulation. Patients are taught methods to reduce bladder irritability including the effects of diet on bladder control.

This treatment is effective for post-surgical recovery or for patients trying to avoid surgery. Currently, this treatment is available for both men and women.

Pain is often easily eliminated with flexibility, strengthening and postural exercise, including aquatic exercise, as well as body mechanics training. In the post-partum phase, as new mothers care for their infant, musculoskeletal problems may persist or worsen. These problems, specifically lower back pain, respond well to the conservative holistic approach of physical therapy.

Many women are unsure of how to exercise safely during and after pregnancy. A physical therapy consult includes a musculoskeletal evaluation and history of exercise, prescription of appropriate exercises and progression of exercises specific for each individual patient.

Menstrual cramps and discomfort can be relieved or eliminated with electrical stimulation, the use of ice or heat, and appropriate relaxation techniques and exercises.

Fibromyalgia Syndrome/Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome are difficult syndromes to manage without the proper knowledge of effective self care techniques, non-irritating stretches and exercises, including aquatic exercise, proper nutrition, and pain management strategies. Patients undergo a complete musculoskeletal evaluation prior to treatment and exercise program. Progressive training in body mechanics, flexibility exercises and spine stabilization exercises help the patient to prevent/manage pain. The goal of treatment is independent management of symptoms by the patient.

Pelvic and abdominal pain can be effectively treated with conservative physical therapy techniques, once a physician determines that a patient is not a candidate for medical/surgical intervention. Pain is often caused by scar tissue, muscle spasms, flexibility and strength deficits, and muscle imbalances. A full musculoskeletal and pelvic floor evaluation by a physical therapist will determine the plan and course of treatment. Pelvic floor muscles and soft tissues are treated with ultrasound, electric stimulation, ice, scar mobilization, relaxation, strengthening, and biofeedback. Treatment also includes postural and body mechanics training, flexibility and strengthening exercises, and manual physical therapy.

Obstetric and Postpartum Musculoskeletal Pain Program/ Pregnancy Back School

Pain is often easily eliminated with flexibility, strengthening and postural exercise, including aquatic exercise, as well as body mechanics training. In the post-partum phase, as new mothers care for their infant, musculoskeletal problems may persist or worsen. These problems, specifically lower back pain, respond well to the conservative holistic approach of physical therapy.

As an adjunct to medical management, patients undergo complete musculoskeletal evaluation. They are prescribed an individualized program of postural and corrective exercises, education, pain management treatment and techniques, and self care strategies. Fall prevention and weight bearing exercises are an integral part of the program. Patients are taught safe body mechanics to avoid forward bending and twisting which may cause vertebral fractures.

Any woman placed on restricted activity levels during pregnancy will benefit from a physical therapy consult. Patients are instructed in energy saving body mechanics, comfortable positioning and how to avoid Valsalva Maneuver during movement. Women benefit from maintaining good general physical condition, monitoring of heart rate, and the safe use of ice, heat and massage for pain management.