Below are some of the most common women's health conditions treated in physical therapy, as described by the American Physical Therapy Association.
PostPartum Pelvic Pain
Pelvic pain is pain felt in the lower abdomen, pelvis, or perineum. It has many possible causes and affects up to 20% of the population in the United States, including women and men. Pelvic pain is considered "chronic" when it lasts for more than 6 months. Physical therapists help people experiencing pelvic pain restore strength and flexibility to the muscles and joints in the pelvic region, and reduce their pain.
Urinary incontinence is any undesired leakage of urine. People with the condition may have trouble starting the urine stream or holding urine. Urinary incontinence involves the muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles attach to the bottom of the pelvic bones and run front to back, forming a hammock structure that lifts to support the internal organs and controls the sphincter muscles. The pelvic-floor muscles also help support the low back, stabilize the pelvic bones, and help with sexual function. Women may be more likely than men to have urinary incontinence; however, the condition in men may be under-reported.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
The sacroiliac joint is a joint between the sacrum and the ilium, or pelvic bone. The 2 sides of the sacroiliac joint normally work together. If 1 side becomes stiff, they will not move together and this causes pain or muscle stiffness in the area. Pain is often made worse with walking and bending activities. It is also possible that 1 side may become too loose (lax) as well, resulting in SIJ dysfunction. This may occur during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy due to hormonal changes that cause the ligaments to become more lax. SIJ dysfunction can occur with injury, such as when a person falls and lands on 1 side of the body and alters the position of the joint, or when an athlete overtrains. Muscle imbalances and hip problems, such as hypermobility or dysplasia, may also lead to SIJ dysfunction. Sacroiliac pain is also related to some types of arthritis, such as ankylosingspondylitis, an inflammatory process most often affecting the lower back, which may cause the vertebrae to fuse.