What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that run like a hammock from the front to the back of the pelvis. Like any other muscle group on the body, these muscles have very specific jobs to perform.They play a crucial role in support of the pelvic and internal organs, bladder and bowel control, sexual appreciation, breath pattern, and even postural stability. However, due to their location, when the pelvic floor muscles have dysfunction it can result in pain, urinary and fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, decreased sexual function, and even lower back or hip pain. That is why it is important to have a thorough assessment by a pelvic health physical therapist that has taken specialized continuing education in order to examine and efficiently treat any pelvic floor dysfunction.
Pelvic floor dysfunctions include, but are not limited to:
- Urinary incontinence, urgency or frequency
- Slow or intermittent urinary stream and straining
- Feeling of incomplete emptying of urine or stool
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Pain in the pelvic region including sacroiliac, pubic symphysis, low back, hips
- Painful scars after childbirth or surgery
- Dysfunction or pain related to sexual function
To evaluate your condition, it may be necessary to have your pelvic health physical therapist perform an internal vaginal or rectal pelvic floor muscle examination. This examination is performed by observing and/or palpating the perineal region, including the vagina and or rectum externally and/or internally. The examination may include assessment of:
- Skin condition
- Reflexes and sensation
- Muscle function, length, strength, endurance, power, tenderness
- Nerve or scar mobility and tenderness
- Position of pelvic organs in relation to pelvic floor muscles
An internal examination is NOT MANDATORY, however, it is the most effective evaluative tool for the pelvic floor muscles. During your first appointment an internal examination can be further discussed between you and your pelvic health physical therapist.