Your pelvic floor is a group of ligaments and muscles that
act like a sling, supporting the bladder, bowels, prostate and uterus ...
and are intricately connected to the rest of your core. While more
often thought of as a "women's health" concern, pelvic floor
dysfunction does affect men as well.
But consider this ... Every time our foot strikes the ground, our pelvic floor contracts to provide stability as well. It has fascial connections to muscles of the thigh running down the leg to muscles that control the arch of the foot.
From head to toe, the pelvic floor is involved in movement. And, if left untreated, it can cause other things to struggle over time. Research proves that in 10-20 years, acute back pain can cause issues with the urinary system. Likewise, untreated urinary dysfunction can cause chronic back pain over time.
Unfortunately, this is what we see in clinic. By the time men or women find physical therapy, multiple systems are involved, affecting both everyday tasks and life events. So let's talk about it.
What areas of our body (and life) are directly affected by the pelvic floor?• Reproductive – This is an area we think of often in our prenatal/postnatal moms. Fibroids can cause pelvic floor scarring. Endometriosis causes pelvic congestion. There are even issues that gynecologists are not always aware of, but are proactive in referring to physical therapy for care.
- Sexual – Intercourse should be comfortable and pleasurable. If this is not the case, pelvic floor treatment often helps.
- Urinary – Frequency, urgency, incontinence ... All can be reduced or resolved with good pelvic floor care.
- Bowels – Pelvic floor tightness can cause constipation. Issues like IBS and digestive abdominal pain can cause pelvic floor issues. Abdominal surgeries and scarring inhibit proper movement, leading to pain/issues. Did you know 64% of all men who have hernia repairs develop some level of pelvic floor dysfunction over time?
- Musculoskeletal - Last but not least, pelvic floor is a transverse plane set of muscles that provide stability and house our deep hip rotators (kinda the ‘rotator cuff’ for the hip). Pain in the hips, groin and low back can all be residual
So, how does physical therapy help?I recently had a practical experience myself. Christmas Eve morning I took my dog on a trail run to enjoy the snowfall and crisp air. It was a frigid day and I was dressed in many layers. I managed to miss seeing a tree root and, before you knew it, I was face down in the dirt with screaming hamstring and adductor pain. Thankfully, I know a good PT!!
I used the first 3 days for RICE (mostly rest, ice, and NSAIDs). A few days later, I continued with symptom management and started slow progressive exercise. I needed a few dry needling episodes. I also needed almost daily pelvic floor treatment. It was the only thing that helped with my nagging pelvic headache and allowed me to sit and stand through a whole day of work. It made me realize that many people don’t have the tools and knowledge, and because of that many take more time to heal, or never heal at all.
New injury. Old injury. Or some of those other ‘issues’ I talked about above (but often are not shared with your provider). We are here to help.