What to expect during your first Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy visit
Pelvic floor physical therapists (PFPT) diagnose and treat patients with pelvic floor dysfunction. However, your PFPT should be evaluating the entire body and not just your pelvic floor. Of course, if you are there for a pelvic floor evaluation, then the therapist may spend more time evaluating tissues and joints closer to the pelvic floor, but it is important to evaluate the person as a whole.
On your first pelvic floor physical therapy visit, your therapist will go over your subjective history. She/he will ask you about your symptoms, what causes them, what makes your discomfort/pain better, how long they last, and any other contributing factors. Most of the time, the therapist can get more information just by listening to your story than by evaluating you objectively, so it's important to be specific.
After the history, the therapist will evaluate your spinal range of motion, pelvic alignment, core and lower extremity strength, as well as any other special tests that he/she may deem necessary based on your history.
In order to truly evaluate pelvic floor muscles, your therapist may need to perform an internal vaginal or rectal muscle evaluation. Your therapist will assess strength, endurance, range of motion and ability for those muscles to fully lengthen and relax after a contraction. This will give your therapist insight on what the cause of your pelvic floor dysfunction is. Sometimes, after evaluating your pelvic floor muscles and ligaments, the therapist may conclude that the cause of your discomfort/pain is not the pelvic floor. The root of the problem may be coming from your abdomen, lumbar spine, ribs, or any other part of the body.
As part of your first evaluation, the therapist will treat any muscle imbalances, soft tissue restrictions and will evaluate how you exercise and move. Most therapists will provide an initial home exercise program on your first visit in order to start you an an appropriate exercise routine to target your concerns.
You will see the most progress in physical therapy if you are consistent with your home exercises, follow all tips and techniques recommended by your therapist, and take advantage of the time in each session you have. The best results are achieved through time, even though you will most likely start to feel some improvement in how you are moving and/or feeling from the first session!
Dr. Krisia Gattas, PT, DPT