Pelvic Health and Physical Therapy, is it for you?

Do you have unrelenting tailbone, hip, or low back pain?

Have you had a decline in function during or after pregnancy due to pain, decline in mobility, and decrease in control of bowel and bladder, or decline in sexual function?

Do you have chronic constipation?

Have you had multiple gynecologic or abdominal surgeries?

If so, you may require pelvic floor physical therapy.  Many patients don’t realize that the pelvic floor is made of a group of muscles called the levator ani and that physical therapists can treat these muscles.  Studies show that pelvic floor dysfunction does alter movement patterns throughout the entire musculoskeletal system.

Up to 20% of women between 18 and 50 suffer from pelvic pain, and one in four women will experience this at some time in their life.  43% of women will have dyspareunia, or pain with sexual activity. This may be due to history of trauma, over activity or underactivity of the pelvic floor, behavioral habits, or dysfunction throughout the external pelvic floor muscles, which support the hip joints. For example, an individual who eats or drinks things that irritate the bladder, or who does not position him or herself properly to allow for optimal passage of urine and feces may experience these symptoms.

Pelvic floor physical therapy will involve assessment of the muscles of the pelvic floor, either through internal exam, or palpation of external structures surrounding the pelvic floor.  You will then be prescribed exercises to either improve strength of the hip and pelvic floor, or incorporate relaxation techniques and breathing exercises, depending on the tone of the pelvic floor.  

Assessment of breathing patterns is crucial due to the co-contraction of the diaphragm, the major breathing muscle, and the pelvic floor.  Ideally this co-contraction occurs prior to a cough to prevent incontinence. Manual therapy of the pelvic floor, hip musculature, and low back may also be incorporated to decrease pain.  The temporomandibular joint, cervical spine and ankle joints may also be assessed due to the high degree of interdependence between these areas of the body. Once pain levels decrease, your therapist will work with you on regaining strength and mobility during functional activities.

Please call Loudoun Physical Therapy to discuss these and many other treatment options to relieve your pain and restore your function.

Submitted by Dr. Holly Rigney PT, DPT.


About Dr. Holly Rigney PT, DPT

Dr. Holly Rigney is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Loudoun Physical Therapy. Holly is a native of Harrisonburg, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. She received her Bachelor's degree in Health & Exercise Sciences from Bridgewater College and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Lynchburg College.

Holly has a variety of experiences treating all patients from across the spectrum, including skilled nursing, outpatient, and home health services. She is certified in Fascial Manipulation and Trigger Point Dry Needling (TPDN), two techniques effective in reducing pain and improving range of motion. These techniques treat conditions including, but not limited to, shoulder, neck, hip and back pain as well as recurring athletic injuries.

Additionally, Holly enjoys utilizing Postural Restoration Therapy to restore optimal positioning and breathing mechanics of the patient. She feels that these treatment options treat the whole body and the cause of the symptoms, versus just the symptoms alone. Holly has a passion for treating a variety of patients and has completed Level 1 of the Pelvic Health Series at the Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute. This is a valuable tool in maximizing patient function as well as treating back and lower extremity pain.

Holly is the primary therapist at the Ida Lee location for the aquatic therapy program. In her spare time, Holly enjoys spending time with her husband, Zane, and their dogs, Ruger and Hoyt, as well as skiing, hiking, and biking


To learn more about your options to improve your pelvic health, please click here.

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