We recently met with Christina Noonan, a local Tampa Physical Therapist who focuses on women’s health. We learned all about the services she provides and are happy to share more information here in our latest guest blog post:
As we all know, having a baby is not an easy task.
It is also not easy on our bodies! During pregnancy many changes happen, including shifting of organs, widening of our pelvis and ribcage, stretching of our abdominals, laxity in our ligaments, increased pressure on the pelvic floor, and shift in posture.
After child birth, some expect our bodies will just bounce back. However, not every woman has the same body or birth story. For many, it is a slow process. Did you know that a women’s health physical therapist can help with many of the conditions or symptoms that may arise postpartum or during pregnancy?
The following issues are common and are just a few areas that a pelvic floor physical therapist can help with:
1) Urinary stress incontinence:
Involuntary leaking of urine during activities such as coughing, sneezing, jumping, or running. Stress incontinence is usually due to dysfunction or weakness in the pelvic floor. This can happen from pregnancy due to increased pressure on the pelvic floor. This causes stretching of these muscles and weakness over time. Pelvic floor trauma during childbirth can also result in weakness related to incontinence. About 17% of all women over the age of 18 suffer from incontinence. Physical therapy can help you retrain these muscles correctly and improve symptoms many times within 3-4 visits.
2) Diastasis recti:
A separation of the rectus abdominis, also known as the “six pack” muscles. It is most commonly associated with pregnancy due to the expanding uterus. This causes stretching of the linea alba, which is a fibrous structure down the center of the abdomen, allowing separation of these muscles. Research has shown that about 39% of women will have this separation at 6 months postpartum.
3) Painful intercourse (Also called dyspareunia):
This condition can be related to over active pelvic floor muscles or scar tissue due to pelvic floor trauma. A physical therapist can aid in relaxation of pelvic floor and decreasing scar tissue.
A condition where the uterus, bladder, or rectum begins to fall into the vagina. It is commonly associated with child birth as well as hormonal changes that occur with increasing age. Symptoms include heavy feeling or increased pressure “down there,” as well as low back pain and incontinence.
5) Pregnancy related low back pain:
About 50% of women experience moderate to severe low back and/or pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy. A physical therapist can help ease the pain with the use of manual techniques and exercises. They can also provide individualized exercise instruction to help women strengthen their core (which studies have shown to help decrease the likelihood of having a diastasis recti), and possibly help shorten the first two stages of labor!
Many women’s health issues often go unspoken about because these topics can be embarrassing and difficult to discuss. There is also confusion as to whether or not these issues are “normal.” In reality, pelvic floor dysfunction can be corrected and it is important to address before it becomes worse.
If you are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above, or think that you may benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy, locate a women’s health physical therapist near you.
By: Christina Noonan, DPT, PT, CSCS
2307 S Dale Mabry Hwy Ste. F
Tampa, Fl, 33329