If you’re experiencing symptoms like urinary dysfunction, constipation and pelvic pain, it might be time to see a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Darianne Butler sees patients at Regional One Health’s East Campus.
She said patients should expect to describe their concerns and undergo an exam. Then, she prescribes a series of exercises that can help with their individual concerns.
Issues like incontinence, constipation and painful intercourse might not be fun to talk about, but there is no reason to suffer in silence.
Regional One Health recently introduced a new service, pelvic floor therapy, at its East Campus Center for Rehabilitative Medicine.
It can help with a variety of conditions related to the pelvic region, which practitioner Darianne Butler, DPT, defines as “from hip bone to hip bone and from the pubic bone to tailbone.”
Butler, who earned special certification and completed two internships to become a pelvic floor physical therapist, explained when patients should see her and what they can expect.
When should I see a pelvic floor physical therapist?
Butler sees patients after they are referred by their physician. She recommends anyone – female or male – should ask about pelvic floor therapy if they have the following symptoms:
- Pain during urination or when the bladder is full
- Urine leakage when coughing, sneezing or laughing
- A strong urge to urinate yet feeling unable to empty the bladder
- Painful bowel movements and/or constipation
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain during vaginal exams or when using a tampon
- Prolapse, i.e. the sensation that the pelvic organs are dropping
- Lower abdominal pain
- Chronic pain linked to endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia
Pelvic floor therapy also has a number of applications for pregnant women and women who have recently given birth. It can help with everything from pregnancy discomfort to C-section healing, and Butler encourages women to talk with their OB/GYN about their options.
What can I expect at my first visit?
Butler’s first step is for patients to fill out general health and pelvic floor health questionnaires. “I want to find out what their goals are and what they’re struggling with,” she said.
After that, she interviews and evaluates the patient to learn more about their symptoms and how long they’ve been experiencing them.
What will my treatment involve?
Butler designs an individualized exercise program aimed at addressing each patient’s specific concerns.
Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor are key to improving conditions such as incontinence and prolapse, but Butler said exercises that improve posture, back strength, hip flexibility and more also help with the conditions she treats.
Butler teaches patients how to properly perform the exercises and provides them with an exercise plan. Her goal is to accomplish as much as possible through exercise before moving onto techniques like manual therapy to address muscle dysfunction.
“Everything is based on patient comfort,” Butler said. “I try to treat from the outside first, but if exercises don’t get results and the patient feels comfortable with an internal exam and treatment, we can do that as well to manually relax tight muscles.”
How long will I need to see the therapist?
Butler said the course of treatment varies from patient to patient. The average is between eight-16 sessions, but it could be less if a patient progresses quickly or more if their condition is chronic or difficult to address.
In any case, Butler said she sees her role as teaching the patient the correct way to perform their exercises and then encouraging them to do so on their own.
“I’m like the coach – I put you in the right position and let you know what to focus on,” she said.
How can I make an appointment?
Butler sees patients at Regional One Health’s Center for Rehabilitative Medicine, conveniently located on the second floor of our East Campus at 6555 Quince Road.