In the past, many women’s health issues were hidden behind a veil of secrecy, embarrassment or denial. Fortunately, women today are much more open about their unique health concerns, resulting in better care, more fulfilling lives and greater happiness.
Once taboo topics, pelvic pain, incontinence, menstrual cramps and the discomfort of pregnancy and childbirth, are being openly discussed and women are finding out, many times for the first time, that there are treatment options available that don’t involve pills or surgery.
One of those treatment options is Physical Therapy.
You mean … exercise?
“With the right Physical Therapy treatments, an understanding therapist with specific training in women’s health, and a little work, many women find complete relief from problems that have plagued them since their first pregnancy … or even their first menses,” said Leslyn Spaulding, PT, DPT.
Spaulding Physical Therapy is the area’s leader in providing holistic, personalized Physical Therapy to help clients achieve their highest level of wellness. “As with every condition we treat in the practice, we look at women’s health issues holistically,” Dr. Spaulding noted.
The first step is to determine the specific causes of the difficulties. This might include skeletal misalignment, uneven muscle strength/weakness, muscle tightness, and scar tissue. Often, women suffer from a combination of causes, each of which must be addressed. Treatment may include exercise to realign the skeletal structure, strengthen muscles and improve flexibility; manual therapy for myofascial release; biofeedback; therapeutic electrical nerve stimulation; or a combination of therapies.
In many instances, Dr. Spaulding treats women who have experienced some kind of trauma to the pelvic floor, often the result of childbirth or surgery. This untreated trauma can make it difficult for a woman to control the pelvic floor muscles. “Often, they will have scar tissue from rips and tears and even straining,” Dr. Spaulding noted.
The lucky women receive treatment. In the past, many did not. “It sets up a series of events that show up 10, 15, 20 years down the road. They sneeze really hard, run or jump, or lift heavy weights and they leak urine. And they think, well, that’s just how it is, that’s what happens with aging, or after childbirth,”
Dr. Spaulding said.
That’s not the case. What a lot of women don’t realize there is treatment for leaking and it’s not necessarily surgery. “The goal of our treatment is to teach the patient how to control her pelvic floor muscles and get them to work in concert with the rest of the body.”
It’s more than doing Kegels, which focus almost exclusively on strength. Too much emphasis on strengthening, without equal attention to improving flexibility and range of motion, can lead to other health issues, including constipation and painful intimate relations.
Reproductive health & pregnancy
Physical Therapy can also be useful in helping women deal with the pain of endometriosis, polycystic ovaries and menstrual cramps. Manual techniques performed by the therapist can help to release tissue restrictions that may be the source of pain. On occasion, women who’ve had difficulty conceiving have been able to do so after this specific type of Physical Therapy.
Mothers-to-be can benefit from Physical Therapy as their bodies change and their abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate the growing baby. “Through Physical Therapy, we can help them maintain alignment in their bodies and avoid damage to the abdominal muscles,” Dr. Spaulding noted. Pregnancy changes just about every part of your body – the back, abdomen, SI joints, pelvis … even breathing patterns, Dr. Spaulding noted. Physical Therapy can help a woman prepare for, manage and recover from pregnancy safely and confidently.
Physical Therapy and breast cancer
Another important aspect of Spaulding Physical Therapy’s comprehensive Women’s Health program is care for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Women who have undergone surgery, partial or total mastectomy, lumpectomy or biopsy often experience restricted mobility in the shoulder, chest or upper back. Lymphedema, a painful swelling in affected lymph nodes, may occur following breast surgery.
“Working with women throughout the process helps them to maintain some of their flexibility and strength and avoid complications down the road,” Dr. Spaulding noted. “Being involved in the process gives women a sense that they are doing something to help themselves, which they really are!”
Spaulding Physical Therapy is an independent, locally owned private practice offering Physical Therapy and Wellness services in Mount Sterling, Ky. The practice is located at 3041 Owingsville Road. For more information, please call (859) 497-2924. Physician referral is not needed.