Are you familiar with the term pelvic floor? Well, the pelvic floor system is a group of muscles, ligaments and fascia that function as a unit. The pelvic floor functions to provide support to pelvic organs, maintain urinary function and aide in sexual function, and the pelvic floor is essential for proper breathing mechanics. To better understand how the pelvic floor system functions, visualize a boat in a dock (pictured below). The PFM (pelvic floor muscles) are the water and provide support to the boat, which serves as our pelvic organs for this analogy. The boat is docked or held in place by ropes which function as our ligamentous and fascial components. When the boat is not supported by our PFM (the water for this analogy), it creates more tension on the ropes (ligaments and fascia). Over time this force can lead to organ prolapse or under-activation of the PFM system, as shown in the photo on the right.
What is pelvic floor dysfunction and why is it important? Pelvic floor dysfunction is an umbrella term for many diagnoses, but is often described as the inability to control the muscles of the pelvic floor whether due to over-activation or under-activation. Over-activation of the PFM can lead to chronic pelvic pain, orthopedic pain/dysfunction (low back pain) and incontinence due to changes in the tensioning system. Under-activation of the PFM can lead to organ prolapse and incontinence. Here's a list of treatable "umbrella terms" associated with pelvic floor dysfunction:
Fecal incontinence/difficulty voiding
Levator ani syndrome
Painful bladder syndrome
Pelvic organ prolapse
Healthwise Care Center & Physical Therapy is proud to announce that we've added pelvic floor care to our clinic. We have four clinicians who have furthered their education in this specialized field and felt it necessary to bring this service to the underserved population of the Eagle River community. If you are interested in learning more about pelvic floor dysfunction, we will be providing an in-service on PF dysfunction in the coming months. More details will be provided at a later date. We are looking forward to providing this care to our Eagle River community!