What is a Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Appointment?
Does the idea of seeing a pelvic health specialist make you squirm a bit? Kind of like going in for a pap smear or a mammogram? Or maybe worse?
I’d love to put a kibosh on the scary vibes b/c my goal is to be the HIGHLIGHT of your day! 🙂 So let’s reveal all the juicy details, shall we?
First of all, let’s review – I’m a Doctor of Physical Therapy, and I worked in orthopedics for 10 years, and have been also specializing in women’s health for 8. I say women’s health b/c my business is for women only. I know some pelvic floor specialists see men as well and that’s great! I’ve directed my business towards working with women only. But I’m just as concerned about how your WHOLE BODY is functioning, not just your pelvic floor.
When you come and see me, the first thing we’ll do is chat for awhile. I’ll want to know your goals first and foremost b/c this appointment is about YOU, not me. Your goals are critical in directing your care, and no appointment is cookie-cutter but I’m constantly making decisions based on what YOU want to get out of the appointment.
I will want to know your obstetric history in detail if you’ve carried babies, and any other pertinent details based on the reason that you’re here and the goals that you stated. Obviously, medical history is covered, much like you’d share with your Medical Doctor.
Then we get to see how you move. I want to see how you walk, how you hold yourself, how you squat and lunge, and how you breathe. I want to see how your inner and outer core function, check your general range of motion and strength, and also check for diastasis. Different tests are done based on your complaints or goals (ie: are you coming in with low back pain? I’d want to figure out the cause. Are you postpartum and want to return to running? I’d want to test your strength in ways that are pertinent to that goal to make sure you are safe and effective).
If you’re coming in with complaints of leaking or incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, painful sex, urgency, pelvic pain, or something similar, I may or may not do an internal or external pelvic exam that day. Unlike some PTs, I won’t surprise you with it and I don’t think it’s necessary for every patient to get a pelvic exam. In fact, less than half of my patients actually have one done, and they are very successful patients.
I’m going to first explain your options, give you my personal opinion, and ultimately let YOU decide. You GET to be in the driver’s seat because I want YOU to be comfortable. In situations where there has been trauma, most likely this is NEVER the first thing we do. If we decide not to do the pelvic exam or treatment at this appt and you don’t have any improvement by your next appointment, then that may mean we need to do an internal check at the next appointment b/c most likely more is going on there that we need to check out.
Some women want to get things figured out ASAP – they really WANT to know what is going on down there 🙂 and we do it the first visit. But again, my appointments aren’t cookie-cutter and they never look alike. It’s just a portion of our time together and doesn’t usually take too long unless we have to work on total pelvic floor retraining or there is some tightness or pain that we need to work on.
One thing to remember: your vagina is another body part God made good. Our world has totally distorted this goodness. It’s been hyper-sexualized, it’s been abused, it’s been made taboo. But it’s another GOOD body part God gave females. Let me tell you – I was the shy conservative girl who never said the word vagina before I started this training. 🙂 Trust me when I say that I understand modesty and privacy and yours is my utmost concern. But I also want to help you LIVE WELL, and just like a shoulder or a knee or the spine, sometimes our bodies need a little HELP to live well. That’s where I get to serve you, and though this career was NOT my first choice (I was actually semi-forced into this specialization by a previous employer!) I’m so thankful now that I get to help women in this way b/c it’s extremely rewarding AND I’ve seen the difference it makes in their lives!
The rest of the appointment would look like a typical physical therapy appointment – perhaps some manual techniques (ie: if you’re having neck/back pain) and always exercise. 🙂 We probably spend the most time on figuring out what exercises and stretches are going to be best for you. I typically don’t give more than 3-6 exercises, but I want to make sure they are the BEST ones for you so that your time at home working on them is SHORT (5-10 min/day) but very effective. I send you a full report with detailed instructions of your exercises and instructions from the day, sometimes with pictures or a video for good reminders if needed.
From there, most of the work you do in healing happens at home! I’ll check up on you via email, and then I like to follow-up in the clinic with my patients in 2-3 weeks or as needed. We get a LOT done in our time together, and this means you save lots of money b/c most patients don’t need very many appointments.
Does a pelvic check make you squirm or is it no big deal? Ready to dive on in and make an appointment? Fill out my contact form!