coming soon...

What is Pelvic Floor Therapy?

What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?


Pelvic floor physical therapy is a treatment approach that uses the principles of physical therapy to provide a structured, effective and safe reconditioning of pelvic floor muscles. The goal of the treatment is to improve the strength and function of pelvic floor muscles and alleviate pain, weakness and dysfunction in the muscles. 

When is pelvic floor physical therapy recommended?

Pelvic floor therapy is targeted at the pelvic floor muscles, ligaments and connective tissues, all of which work together to support the pelvic organs, assist in bladder and bowel control. They provide pelvic stability and promote proper function of pelvic organs together with posture and breathing. When pelvic muscles fail to work as they should, pain and symptoms that interfere with normal functioning occur.

Pelvic floor physical therapy and orthopedic rehabilitation can help with:

  • Urinary incontinence, frequency and urgency

  • Painful urination

  • Bladder and bowel movements

  • Fecal incontinence

  • Painful sex or pain in the genital area

  • Endometriosis

  • Constipation

  • Menopause symptoms

  • Vaginismus

  • Pain in the pelvis, hip, abdomen, thigh, or low back

  • Rectal pain

  • Unexplained pain

  • Endometriosis

  • Postpartum and pregnancy wellness

  • Interstitial cystitis (IC)

  • Pregnancy-related pain

  • Testicular pain

Who needs pelvic floor physical therapy?

Pelvic floor physical therapy is recommended as first-line remedy for many disorders of the pelvic region. Both men and women with weakness in pelvic floor muscles can perform exercises to strengthen the floor and enhance bladder and bowel control. Specifically, a physician will refer a patient for the therapy if pelvic floor dysfunction is suspected to have a neuromuscular cause. The dysfunction may result from aging, illness, childbirth, surgery or other conditions and may coexist with other genitourinary problems, such as urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, bladder-emptying problems, and constipation.

How does pelvic floor physical therapy work?

Pelvic floor therapy begins with history taking, which includes past surgical and medical history, medications, etc. A thorough orthopedic examination is performed, with close attention to the lumbar spine and hips, gait and posture. The assessment usually includes evaluation of both internal and external muscles, with patients often asked to stand, walk and sit to enable the therapist to detect any existing posture or joint issues affecting the pelvic floor muscles.

The evaluation helps to determine whether the therapy is appropriate and guides the creation of an appropriate care plan. And usually, the type of therapy recommended depends on the symptoms experienced. For example, relaxing and lengthening muscle exercises may be necessary to relieve some symptoms while in other cases strengthening exercises are appropriate.

So the eventual treatment plan may include:

  • Stretching or strengthening exercises of the legs, trunk or pelvic muscles.

  • Relaxation exercises for shortened pelvic muscles.

  • Education in self-management and prevention.

  • Coordination exercises.

  • Biofeedback for either relaxation or strengthening of pelvic muscles.

  • Modalities such as ice, heat or electrical stimulation.

Through a tailored treatment plan, the physical therapist manipulates pelvic floor muscles to restore their strength and function. Ultimately, the therapy helps to ease pain and associated symptoms, and restore normal functioning.