Nowadays, both men and women are prone to developing a pelvic-related disorder. However, pelvic floor disorders (PFD) affect hundreds of millions of women around the globe, with almost half of the female population experiencing at least one form of PFD. Impacting the bladder, bowel or genital tract, the symptoms may vary from being unpleasant to causing pain and seriously impacting one’s quality of life. Consequently, these lead to painful sexual contact, urinary or bowel incontinence conditions, or abdominal pain.
While the exact causes of these disorders have yet to be identified, things like pregnancy and strenuous physical activity or quite the opposite, leading a sedentary life can be counted among the reasons. Studies show that almost 10% of Canada’s population suffers from urinary incontinence. That means that currently there are over 3.3 million people with high unmet needs. People who are not responding to their current treatment, or would require alternatives. The good news is that there is an option they might have overlooked: physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy – a fast-growing practice addressing PFD
In spite of studies having been conducted since as early as 1948 around the effects of physiotherapy in patients suffering from PFD, there is still a need for awareness. With many of its applications and effects still undiscovered, this therapy shows great potential. For instance, one study shows that the effectiveness of pelvic floor muscle exercise is highly dependent on the frequency of the exercise and its intensity. It also pointed out that by doing 15 contractions of 2 to 4 seconds, 3 times a day for 8 weeks, women with PFD experienced a great reduction in urinary incontinence related symptoms.
An article published in 2016 in the scientific publication Urology News starts by stating that physiotherapy should be used as a first-line treatment option for women with pelvic organ collapse and urinary incontinence, with data to back that statement up. Similarly to previous study, evidence showed that adherence is of utter importance in reaching goals.
Another important aspect to note here is the emotional burden that comes alongside the condition. It has been proven that a women’s emotional well-being is directly linked to a PFD. With many suffering from depression, anxiety and social isolation, it is not difficult to imagine how much of an impact this has on their quality of life.
Practices offer one on one sessions with a trained pelvic floor physiotherapist through targeted exercises performed manually. What is unique in the process is that the practitioner empowers the patient as well. Because they incorporate education about lifestyle and provide support, the patient receives a personalized type of care. Despite the fact that there is still more work to be done by both care providers and systems around the world, studies into physiotherapy show great promise in meeting these needs. There is a golden opportunity to significantly improve the life of millions patients.