Why might I need Pelvic Physiotherapy?
One in three women experience continence issues at some point in their life. If not addressed, this condition and their symptoms are likely to worsen over time.
It is sadly extremely common for women to be told, by both medical professionals and by other mothers that this is ‘normal’ and to be expected ‘now you’re a mum’. However, despite these issues being extremely COMMON, they are not NORMAL and like any area of the body that has experienced trauma or great change, they benefit from help, knowledge and a pro-active approach to healing and restoration.
What can Physiotherapy help with?
Here’s a video where I’m being interviewed by Pamela Windle of Smarter Change explaining what pelvic physiotherapy is, involves and why a proper assessment is so important!
~ Pelvic girdle pain – sacro-iliac (at the back), symphysis pubis (at the front) pain and dysfunction
~ Lower back pain
~ Scarring – external e.g. caesarean scar, and internal e.g. episiotomy /tearing
~ Rectus diastasis (gap between muscles at the front of the belly)
~ Sciatica and neural pain / problems
~ Continence issues – stress, urgency, mixed
~ Difficulties with bowel habits
~ Difficulties with painful sex
Why Do These Problems Happen?
The pelvis, abdomen and surrounding area is a complex part of the body but nevertheless is still made up of bones, muscles, ligaments and fascia, just like any other. As the female body goes through pregnancy and labour, these structures undergo unusually high amounts of pressure and distortion, often resulting in problems to do with continence, pelvic pain, scar tissue, nerve issues and various other conditions.
Such pressures and strains happen even in women who have not had children, through sports, poor bladder and bowel habits, or chronic inactivity.
Further and different issues develop throughout the menopause and peri-menopause, as women’s bodies change both physically and hormonally.
“Is it all in my head?”
Women have not only the physical challenge but also the mental one of re-defining their role in life when they become a mother for the first time. This, combined with profound physical changes of a hugely personal nature, just at the time when they feel pressured to show joyfulness, can lead women into anxious or depressive cycles, and feeling they are not able to tackle the situation.
Continence issues can also begin very occasionally – and it’s tempting to treat episodes as one-offs. But they are a sign that the body is not fully coping with what should be easy natural processes, and they can quickly develop into new habits (such as always needing to be near a loo) which can exacerbate the problem.
There is certainly a psychological side to all these issues, as ladies’ self image and confidence can be affected. These are hugely important, and are always included in physiotherapy’s approach.
Physiotherapy at Arcadia always comes with a full explanation of the issues, anatomy and function around the problem, as research has consistently shown that gaining understanding and consequently some control of the situation reduces pain and improves recovery outcomes. It is a bio (body) – psycho (mind) – social (environment) approach that ensures change is fully supported and addressed from a holistic approach.
Post-natal rehabilitation does require commitment and regularity for success. The time with your physio might last a few months, but these are skills for life. Like any muscle, significant recovery can occur in as little as 6 weeks, when treated properly and given the correct supporting behaviours and habits (e.g. quality nutrition). This is the case also with ladies who have had children a long while ago – if the issue still exists it is still possible to tackle it.