Pelvic-Floor Physical Therapy Services

Advanced Treatment for Women with Pelvic-Floor Conditions

Loyola Medicine’s pelvic-floor physical therapy program provides a comprehensive approach to the treatment of chronic pelvic pain. Loyola’s team of experienced, compassionate therapists will develop an individualized treatment plan to better manage your pelvic-floor symptoms, which may include pain and difficulty controlling your bowel or bladder.

Many conditions can be partially or completely treated using pelvic-floor physical therapy, including:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Pelvic-girdle pain due to pregnancy and delivery
  • Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • Painful periods (dysmenorrhea)
  • Pelvic-floor tension, pain and dysfunction
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Urinary retention​

Why Choose Loyola for Pelvic-Floor Physical Therapy?

Pelvic-floor problems sometimes require specialized physical therapy. The pelvic-floor muscles play an important role in supporting abdominal organs, such as the bladder, bowel and uterus. They also are important in sexual health and childbirth.

These muscles stretch from the tailbone to the pubic bone and from each side of the pelvic bones. There are openings in this floor to allow for passageways such as the vagina and the anus. With a healthy pelvic floor, these muscles will wrap around and support these organs. When pelvic-floor muscles are weak or there is nerve dysfunction, physical therapy can help to ease or eliminate your condition. Our therapists have advanced training to correct numerous conditions. They work in close collaboration with your physician to deliver the highest quality of care. As part of an academic medical center, Loyola’s physicians and pelvic-floor physical therapists teach other healthcare professionals the latest techniques. Loyola’s physical therapists are members of national organizations that promote the top standard of care, including the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the American Association of Academic Physiatrists.

What to Expect with Pelvic-Floor Physical Therapy

Your first visit will include an initial evaluation in a comfortable, private room by a therapist who has undergone advanced education and training in the evaluation and treatment of pelvic-muscle dysfunction. The therapist will obtain a detailed history  of your health, pain and activity limitations. She also will ask you about any bowel, bladder and sexual difficulties as these are in part controlled by the pelvic muscles. The therapist will then take a look at your posture, mobility of your spine and hips and the strength and flexibility of the pelvic-girdle muscles. She will examine any scar tissue and trigger points in the muscles of your pelvic region as well.

The therapist also will specifically examine the pelvic-floor muscles. Your pelvic floor consists of a group of muscles that attach behind the pubic bone in the front to the tail bone in the back. They are responsible for providing support to the pelvic joints and organs, relaxing to allow the passage of urine, stool and gas, and contracting to prevent the loss of urine, stool and gas as appropriate. In order to best examine these muscles, you will be asked to undress from the waist down and be covered with a sheet. The therapist will use a lubricated, gloved finger to identify dysfunctional muscles around and in your vagina or rectum and then instruct you to contract and relax these muscles in order to determine how the muscles are functioning. Care is taken to make you as comfortable as possible with the exam.

Your therapist will discuss the evaluation results with you and provide you with education regarding your specific condition and the expectations of therapy. She will answer all of your questions and will work with you to establish a treatment plan based on the results of the evaluation and your goals for therapy.

Rehabilitation may include:

  • Biofeedback (sensor records muscle activity)
  • Bladder/bowel training
  • Electrical muscle stimulation
  • Improvement/restoration of joint movement
  • Manual therapy
  • Pelvic-floor relaxation/strength training
  • Pressure therapy
  • Stretch/strengthening exercises

What are the Risks of Pelvic-Floor Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy for pelvic pain is considered a very low-risk treatment. Your physical therapist will answer any questions you have before, during and after therapy.