Women’s bodies go through a number of strains and life changes that are exclusive just to women. Whether pregnancy or menopause, there are a series of changes that impact the musculoskeletal system of women, specifically. Not only that, but there are certain conditions, such as pelvic floor dysfunction and osteoarthritis, that pose a greater risk to women than to men. With these in mind, it’s no wonder that physical therapists have designated certain treatments specifically to address women’s overall health and the types of conditions that seem to have a greater impact on their lives.
In this page, we’ll walk through the types of conditions that are more present in women and the treatments available. If at any point you have any questions, you can reach out to our team directly to schedule a free consultation with one of our physical therapists.
Conditions Specific to Women’s Health
As we mentioned, there are a series of conditions for which women have a higher risk of developing than men. A couple of the most common conditions include:
- Osteoarthritis — Osteoarthritis describes chronic inflammation in the joints as a result of the protective cartilage in the joints breaking down over time. While this condition is often caused by general age and wear and tear of the body, for some reason it affects women more often than men. Researchers are still trying to determine why that is, but the statistics are clearly skewed toward women developing osteoarthritis more frequently as they age.
- Pelvic floor dysfunction — Women are often at a higher risk of developing pelvic floor dysfunction, usually due to pregnancy and childbirth (sometimes multiple pregnancies and births). The hormone increase during pregnancy loosens the pelvic floor muscles, while the added pressure to the pelvic floor from weight gain during pregnancy can cause those muscles to weaken over time. While men also experience pelvic floor dysfunction, women are largely at a higher risk for this condition due to these reasons.
Physical therapy is often the preferred method of treatment to address these women’s health concerns. Physical therapy can help address the common symptoms associated with women’s health conditions, such as:
- Chronic low back and pelvic/groin pain
- Discomfort during intercourse
- Loss of bladder/bowel control (leaking during certain movements)
- Frequent urination/inability to fully relieve the bladder
A physical therapist will work with you to determine the best treatment plan to relieve your symptoms and help you reach your lifestyle recovery goals, e.g., are you wanting to get back to running without having to worry about bladder leaks? Each treatment plan will be personalized to your needs, and your physical therapist will help you set realistic goals that you can measure against along the way.
Types of Physical Therapy Treatment for Women’s Health
There are many different types of physical therapy treatment for women’s health. Specifically for the two conditions listed above that affect women more than men, your physical therapist may recommend the following group of treatments:
- For osteoarthritis — Therapeutic stretches and exercises can help to reduce pressure on the inflamed joints by strengthening the muscles surrounding the joint. This is particularly helpful for larger joints like the hip, knee and ankle. For smaller joints, like fingers and wrists, treatments like manual therapy, ultrasound, and joint mobilization may be used to help reduce inflammation and stiffness and improve range of motion in the joint.
- For pelvic floor rehabilitation — Biofeedback is the most commonly used physical therapy treatment for strengthening the pelvic floor. A biofeedback machine helps to retrain the muscles in your pelvic floor and improve overall muscle strength and coordination. In conjunction with biofeedback, many physical therapists will also recommend active exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. This is also helpful for women who suffer from diastasis recti after pregnancy, which is the splitting of the abdominal muscles, which weakens the core and creates more pressure on the pelvic floor muscles.
If you’re ready to start treatment for your women’s health issues, contact our team today to schedule an appointment or visit our locations page to find a clinic near you. Our team at Lattimore Physical Therapy is here to help you find relief from your chronic pain and symptoms, so you can get back to the lifestyle you love.