An Osteopathic Approach to Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Problems of the pelvic floor are estimated to affect some 25 to 50 % of women depending on age, as well as a smaller percentage of men in the United States. The related diagnoses can include constipation or incontinence, dyspareunia, recurrent urinary tract infection, pelvic pain, coccydynia (pain of the coccyx or tailbone), prostatitis, cystitis, prolapse and others. These problems can be caused by slip and falls, motor vehicle accidents, pregnancy and childbirth, postural change and other injuries to the body.

The pelvic floor itself is made from muscles strung between the various bones of the pelvis, which provide support for the organs of the lower abdomen and pelvis, situated just above. Organs like the bladder, uterus, prostate, and rectum sit right on top of the pelvic floor muscles. Contraction (or laxity) of the pelvic floor will affect function of these structures. The pelvic floor can be easily distorted by trauma in particular. How many of us have fallen down a few (or flight) of stairs in our lifetime? That fall alone is sufficient to cause a pelvic floor dysfunction.

Treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction often involves manual therapy (both external and internal), biofeedback, medication, hypnosis/meditation, surgery. Patients get varying degrees of improvement from these modalities. Here at South Jersey Osteopathic Care Center we use an exclusively external approach via Osteopathic Manipulation to rebalance the pelvis and release tight muscles with gentle external techniques that do not cause significant pain, and do not involve needles and electrodes. We also treat associated fascial distortions that contribute to the pelvic floor dysfunction, as well as the other structures in the body which can contribute to a disturbance of the pelvic floor via their soft tissue connections. This is truly a whole body approach to the pelvic floor, and can be an effective alternative to hysterectomy or other surgery. For those who have already had surgery, Osteopathic Manipulation can still be useful for symptom relief, and can be combined with other modalities based on patient preference and need.