Every March we give a little extra TLC to one very special group of patients: people living with endometriosis.
Endo what? Endometriosis may in fact be one of the most common diseases that you have never heard of. Or maybe through the efforts of organizations like Endo What or the amazing voices of endometriosis warriors on social media, the term endometriosis may sound vaguely familiar.
One in ten women and uterus owners suffer from this disease. Heavy painful periods, though often brushed off and normalized, are one of the hallmarks of endometriosis.
Endometriosis, however, is a bit more complicated than that and can cause problems like infertility, GI issues, pelvic pain, and fatigue just to name a few.
No definite cure exists for endometriosis, but a solid care team can help you manage endometriosis and improve your quality of life. Check out our March blog from last year for the 6 people you need on your endometriosis care team here: https://hudsonvalleypt.com/2021/03/10/the-6-people-you-need-on-your-endometriosis-team/
This year, we turn our attention to our area of expertise: the pelvic floor.
How can pelvic floor physical therapy help you with endometriosis?
Physical therapy… yes that’s right….. For endometriosis. So often, we see patients referred to us really unclear of what to expect especially if they have past experience with physical therapy for an ankle sprain etc.
The pelvic floor muscle group has some pretty important functions. You can see one layer of muscles here.
Your pelvic floor (when doing its job) helps support all the organs that live inside your pelvis, has sexual function, creates the bottom of your core for stability, ensures that you can go to the bathroom without straining, and stops you from leaking when you head out for a jog.
Endometriosis wreaks havoc on your pelvic floor.
A 2021 study examined pelvic floor dysfunction in individuals with endometriosis and found that people living with endometriosis had more difficulty contracting and relaxing their pelvic floor, experienced higher rates of pain and urinary symptoms than a control group, and had heightened resting pelvic floor tension and surrounding muscle tension (Fraga et. al, 2021).
At Hudson Valley Physical Therapy, we specialize in treating the pelvic floor muscles (and we have pretty amazing orthopedic skills too to address the whole body). Through internal and external muscle assessment, we can help improve issues like pain with urination, painful intercourse, pain with sitting and other pelvic floor problems linked to your endometriosis.
Suffering from GI symptoms? We can help you out there too. A 2021 meta-analysis found double the risk of irritable bowel syndrome in individuals with endometriosis Chiaffarino et. al, 2021).
In pelvic floor physical therapy, we can help you stop straining if you suffer from IBS-constipation and manage the urgency associated with IBS- diarrhea and so much more.
Navigating endometriosis is hard. Pelvic floor physical therapy will not cure your endometriosis but can help improve some serious quality of life issues and empower you with the tools to start feeling better.
Chiaffarino, F., Cipriani, S., Ricci, E., Mauri, P. A., Esposito, G., Barretta, M., Vercellini, P., & Parazzini, F. (2021). Endometriosis and irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics, 303(1), 17–25. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-020-05797-8
Fraga, M. V., Oliveira Brito, L. G., Yela, D. A., de Mira, T. A., & Benetti-Pinto, C. L. (2021). Pelvic floor muscle dysfunctions in women with deep infiltrative endometriosis: An underestimated association. International journal of clinical practice, 75(8), e14350. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijcp.14350