What is Pelvic Physical Therapy?


What is “Pelvic rehab” anyway? Basically we help the pelvis work right. It may be defined generally as physical therapy to restore the pelvic region to a more functional and/or less painful state. Pelvic rehab treats anything from pain to leakage to lack of coordination. Treatment of bladder, genital, abdominal, pelvic girdle and bowel dysfunction with physical therapy is well-studied and proven effective (especially incontinence, prolapse, urgency and frequency). It is thrilling to know we can regain control over our bodies, in many cases without surgery and medication. Physical therapy is one of the least invasive and most beneficial methods for treating functional abdominal, bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunctions.

Do you just treat the pelvis? The pelvic region encompasses the areas from the abdomen/mid-back to the upper thighs (this includes all of the organs, muscles, nerves, joints/bones, connective tissue and lymphatics). Evaluation and treatment for pelvic conditions should include more than just the pelvis. Complete treatment must address issues from head to toe since all areas of the body affect each other. Effective treatment also may include more disciplines than physical therapy alone. A good PT will address all aspects of care required for a client’s full recovery, including working closely with other providers (physicians, performance specialists, counselors, chiropractors, massage therapists, nutritionists, etc).

What about pelvic pain specifically? Pelvic pain is treated differently than bowel or bladder issues, but many of the interventions may overlap. Pelvic pain is also different than other chronic pain conditions and should be treated as such. The interaction between the musculo-skeletal system and the viscera (organs) is critical to address. Research regarding pelvic pain (and chronic pain in general) has been undergoing a major and exciting transformation over the past 10-20 years. Along with that research, PT techniques for pain reduction have radically changed as well.

What’s different about your approach versus pelvic PT I had 10 or 20 years ago? There have been many changes addressing more holistic treatment of pelvic health issues. Probably the biggest change has been in the treatment of persistent pelvic pain. As I already mentioned, pain science has come a long way during the past decade. Treatment has moved away from all passive techniques. Now, treatment approaches are much more inclusive of all contributing factors, using a whole-body approach and focusing on empowering you in the recovery process. Bladder, bowel and sexual treatment have also changed and progressed – now including less invasive options.

How on Earth did you get into this? The abdominal and pelvic region is fascinating! It’s the connecting point – the center of the body – and PT for this region is fun! Who says PT has to hurt or be boring? I learn from my highly-motivated and educated patients daily, from dedicated researchers, clinicians and body-workers every chance I get, and from a variety of research sources, books, articles, blogs and websites as often as possible. In exchange, I offer the most caring, effective, educated and intuitive treatment of which I am able for relief of whatever brings you through my door.