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Sep 2

So, what is Women’s health physiotherapy?

There are so many different stages of a woman’s life and each provides it’s own unique physical challenges. A physiotherapist who is expert in these stages can make the world of difference.

Women’s health physiotherapy encompasses a huge variety of conditions that may effect women throughout their life. Such conditions include;

  • Incontinence or leakage of the bladder or bowel.
  • Pelvic pain that could include endometriosis or muscle spasm;
  • Pregnancy and post natal conditions such as back or sacroiliac/pelvic joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and breast engorgement and mastitis.
  • Prolapse (descent of the pelvic organs) diagnosis and management.
  • Osteoporosis exercise management.
  • Cancer patient well being and exercise management.

Vital Core Physiotherapists have expertise and experience in women’s health and can tailor exercise programs for women at any one of these stages (and everything in between).

The Pelvic Floor 

There are a number of conditions unique to women’s pelvic floor for which physiotherapy can be life changing.

Prolapse is a condition that will affect 1 in 3 women in her lifetime, with a similar statistic for incontinence. Prolapse is when an organ (usually bladder uterus or bowel) descends down into the pelvis. Symptoms include a feeling of heaviness or dragging or bladder and bowel issues.

Incontinence is when urine or decal matter leaks out when it’s not suppose to. There is no such thing as LBL!

Women in the western world now have a lifetime risk of surgery for incontinence or prolapse of up to 20% – 1 in 5 women will have surgery for these problems!

Physiotherapy for management of incontinence and prolapse is now the first line recommendation by the international organisation, the International Consultation on Incontinence. This means that you should access physiotherapy before medication or surgery.

Many women are not aware of the role physiotherapy and appropriate exercise programming and lifestyle advice can have on their risk of developing, or their ability to improve symptoms of, both incontinence and prolapse.

Physiotherapy will usually include pelvic floor exercises to improve coordination, strength, and endurance, postural and breathing exercises, as well as general exercise advice. It may also include the fitting of a silicone pessary to provide support.

There is also a lot of lifestyle education that goes into managing all pelvic floor conditions, which is often the most important of all treatments!.

Pelvic floor muscle over activity and chronic pelvic pain are now gaining increasing awareness amongst doctors and fitness coaches, and the role of a the Vital Core women’s health physio in the team has never been more important!

Women may have a history of endometriosis or painful periods, may have always had difficulty in inserting a tampon, or may experience pain with intercourse. Sometimes, she will have suffered a back injury, and been told she had weak core muscles and was encouraged to do a lot of “stability” training. In some cases, she never really had weak muscles, and she has developed a pattern of over activity as a method of protection against perceived harm to her back. The signs of overactivity have then occurred – difficulty fully emptying her bladder or bowel, pain with intercourse, and sometime incontinence.

Vital Core Women’s health physiotherapists are highly skilled at taking a very complete history and thorough assessment which will involve a pelvic floor examination to manually palpate the pelvic floor muscles. Accurate diagnosis can then be made.

Physiotherapy treatment will include muscle down training, relaxation and mindfulness training, muscle lengthening exercises, and general appropriate exercise advice.

Pregnancy and the early years of motherhood are a time of enormous physical and emotional change. Vital Core women’s health physiotherapists assess, diagnose and treat many conditions that are commonly associated with pregnancy including musculoskeletal conditions such as pelvic girdle, low back or rib pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, de Quervain’s syndrome. They assist with optimal positioning for breast feeding and baby holding, and can manage mastitis where 95% of the time it isn’t an infective process, but an inflammatory one.

Menopause is another critical time of life for women with hormonal change often uncovering problems with pelvic health that were only just being managed when hormones were still adequate. This is a common time for incontinence of bladder or bowel to be a problem for the first time, and is often related to the relative damage done when these women were having their babies. It is often also a busy time for women with work, elderly parents and teenaged children all competing for her time and assistance. Exercise is important here for general well being, to avoid weight gain and to improve bone density, as we lose 25% of our bone mass in the 2 years either side of menopause.

Pelvic floor exercises are an important component of treatment for many pelvic floor conditions such as incontinence and prolapse, but not all women have weakness. Did you know that over a third of people can’t contract their pelvic floor muscles properly? You can’t learn them from the internet or a brochure. An assessment is the only way to know for sure if you are doing it properly.

We are passionate about helping all women to live their lives to the fullest. Pelvic pain, Incontinence and prolapse are conditions that limit quality of life. Vital Core Women’s health physiotherapists are ideally placed to help any one suffering from these conditions to again participate in the activities they enjoy. Please if you have any concerns listed above (or any that perhaps we haven’t mentioned) come and see us.

Vital Core Physiotherapy can help

What can you expect?

We will work out from questioning and thoroughly examining you, what exactly is causing your problem and why and most importantly, what are your goals! What can’t you do that you’d love to be able to do? Once we’re clear on this, then together we can formulate an accurate and complete treatment plan to get you back to your best as soon as possible.

We aren’t about the quick fix. We are about the long term resolution of dysfunction and the promotion of healthy, active living.

Vital Core physio’s can do all the fancy treatment techniques from dry needling to kinesiotape as well a number of old fashioned tried and tested techniques of mobilisation and massage. Most importantly though Vital Core physio’s will spend the time to develop a treatment plan with you that will include a progressive exercise plan. That is the ONLY way to ensure long term success.

What about exercise classes?

Why, I’m glad you asked!

Our exercise classes are all run by physiotherapists who are experts in safe movement. There are many options to choose from and your Vital Core physio can help guide your choice. In the coming weeks I’ll be writing about the classes we have on offer that may be helpful. In the meantime I invite you to have a look at our class time table and give us a call or you can book an assessment online. We’d love to help you get active.