Just for Women: How Physical Therapy Can Improve Your Life
Part I in our Women’s Health Series
Did you know that in France women receive physical therapy after childbirth? If you’ve had children or are a soon-to-be mom, that may surprise you – here, you’re typically on your own after a single post-partum visit at six weeks. In France, after the initial recovery period, post-partum moms receive PT as standard care. Perhaps not surprisingly, these moms suffer a lot less from urinary incontinence and separated stomach muscles (diastasis recti), as well as pelvic floor prolapse which can happen many years later. Although it isn’t a current standard of care in the states, we tell you how seeking physical therapy can help plenty of common women’s health care problems.
Common Women’s Health Problems
At Body One Physical Therapy, Doctor Hannah Enochs specializes in women’s health care and focuses on helping address common women’s health conditions. Some of these conditions are: pelvic pain/spasm, urinary incontinence, abdominal muscle separation, and more. According to Hannah, she sees women from all ends of the spectrum, from older women who have been living with problems for years, to women who have recently had children, to young women who suffer debilitating pelvic pain. What they all have in common is that after a typical course of, (on average) four-to-six weeks, Hannah says her clients typically see significant improvement in their symptoms.
Symptoms of Common Conditions
While each case is unique and different, here are some symptoms that might lead you to seek physical therapy:
- Stress incontinence: (leaking urine if you jump, cough, sneeze, run, etc.)
- Urge incontinence: (having a sudden urge to urinate, and feeling unable to control leakage once you feel this urge) and there is often a mix of stress and urge incontinence
- Pelvic pain/spasm: having pain at rest, pain with intercourse, pain with menstrual products
- Diastasis recti (separated abdominal muscles): often visible, feel less stable and supported, often accompanies incontinence. The separation can be felt with your fingers.
How Treatment Works
According to Dr. Enochs, treatment depends on the nature and severity of the woman’s condition. For a client who has had stress incontinence for years, treatment might take longer than the typical 4-6 week course, and would likely involve evaluation, plenty of education, and homework like targeted exercises designed to re-engage the muscles and help them work properly. As Hannah notes, many doctors recommend kegel exercises; however, there are different types of kegels and if not done properly they won’t have the desired effect. For pelvic pain/spasm, Hannah might employ more manual therapy, and homework designed to reduce muscle tension and discomfort. For diastasis recti, Hannah says treatment involves re-training the brain to engage the muscles properly through targeted movements and exercises, along with manual techniques to promote tissue healing. What Hannah often notices is how some problems tend to go together: she’ll end up helping clients strengthen contributing muscle groups that have impacted the pelvic floor area, and strengthen groups including the glutes and hips or address other orthopedic issues like back pain. Women worried about privacy can relax; for women’s health conditions like these, patients visit a physical therapist like Hannah in a comfortable, private physical therapy room.
Hope for Women’s Health Care
It’s important to realize that this type of physical therapy can improve or alleviate conditions many women have taken for granted as their lot in life. Women spend thousands every year on bladder leakage liners, bladder/pelvic sling surgeries, pelvic floor surgeries, etc and many of these can be delayed or even prevented through physical therapy. Dr. Enochs has said that although each client has a unique case, she does see almost every client achieve significant improvement during treatment. As more doctors in the U.S. become aware of the benefits of physical therapy for women’s health care, this important physical therapy will likely become common. For now, women themselves can pursue direct-access physical therapy and improve their quality of life. With direct access, you’re able to make an appointment with a physical therapist without a referral; the PT’s office will work with your insurance and doctor’s office should more appointments and/or a referral be necessary.
If you’ve been living with one or more of these common women’s health conditions, call Body One Physical Therapy today. Dr. Hannah Enochs sees clients at our South Indianapolis location and would love to help you take charge and put this problem in your rear view mirror. For other health concerns of the musculoskeletal system, Body One has a team of talented, caring physical therapists at each of our four locations serving Central Indiana: North Indianapolis, South Indianapolis, Fishers, and Zionsville. Don’t wait to start feeling better, call Body One today!
Stay tuned for more articles on Women’s Health!