When it comes to women’s health, many women don’t immediately consider physical therapy as a means of treating issues like incontinence, pelvic pain, bladder pain, pre-natal and post-partum issues and many other conditions that may be uncomfortable to talk about. Blair Green, PT, DPT, OCS, PHC, CSCS, hopes to change that mentality.
Women may come to see Blair for a variety of reasons. While many conditions stem from pregnancy, other women suffer due to stress or as a side-effect of aging. Cause and effect depend on the patient, as does treatment.
Blair uses a variety of methods to treat women – from manual therapy, to breathing exercises, body/posture awareness and general mindfulness, as well as pelvic floor education. By determining how the problem fits into the overall health and life of a patient, Blair is better able to treat her. For example, for a woman whose ailment stems from child care, treatment reflects that by addressing how she carries her child or the way in which she handles equipment. For a power lifter who suffers from stress-induced incontinence, Blair focuses on training that woman to strengthen her muscles to control her bladder.
The pelvic floor is a sensitive subject for many women. Typically, issues involving the pelvic floor affect intimacy, as well, and may stem from trauma – further contributing to the taboo nature of its discussion.
In treating a pelvic floor issue, a woman should anticipate a full physical exam – including an internal exam of the pelvic floor to fully understand the state of that muscle – how it contracts as well as its coordination and tone.
The pelvic floor makes up the bottom part of the core and works together with deep abdominal muscles, the diaphragm and lower back. Blair treats her patients for one hour in a private room and spends time explaining the function of the pelvic floor to her patient, including its effect on sexual function, urination, defecation and the overall support of internal organs.
Depending on the condition and cause, physical therapy treatment may last several weeks, months or as an on-going maintenance plan. For issues like stress-related incontinence, it may only take 6-8 weeks for a woman to gain the awareness of her muscles necessary to exercise on her own. For other pain related conditions, like bladder pain or pelvic pain, treatment may last up to a year or require regular “check-in” appointments.
For women entering child-bearing years, Blair envisions a future where physical therapy will be an integral component of pre-natal and post-partum care. Rather than post-partum care that depends on a single OB visit six weeks after giving birth, Blair wishes to incorporate physical therapy into the recovery process, including an examination of posture and abdominal muscles, as well as addressing pain during sex or exercise.
By removing the “taboo” surrounding women’s health – particularly with the pelvic floor – women will be better able to readjust to life after giving birth, as well as eliminate painful or embarrassing conditions unrelated to pregnancy.
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