Feelings of pressure in the bladder; frequent trips to the restroom to urinate; feeling like you still have to pee right after you’ve finished; burning… She was sure it was a bladder infection.
She’s had UTI’s (urinary tract infection) before – “These are all the classic signs”, she thought. Since she started getting symptoms over the holidays, she called her doctor, reiterated her symptoms, and a prescription for antibiotics was called in to the pharmacy.
One week later, still no improvement. She visited her doctor.
The UTI test results returned. Negative. The doctor didn’t have much of an explanation for her. “Continue your second dose of antibiotics and you should see improvement”, she said.
Luckily, she had previously spoken to a friend about Pelvic Health Physiotherapy and thought contacting a Physiotherapist might be a good place to start.
After an initial assessment of her pelvic floor, she was diagnosed with an overactive pelvic floor, which meant her pelvic floor muscles were always contracted, or engaged, and unable to relax or fully lengthen. This was causing all of her symptoms.
Upon further discussion with her physiotherapist, she began to unravel the stressful events that she had been involved in over the last 6 months - Moving twice, buying a condo, the passing of her cat, the holidays with a stressful family. Her sympathetic nervous system was in overdrive and her pelvic floor muscles were carrying the burden. Great. So, what’s next?
Step 1: Breath.
Proper breathing techniques calm the sympathetic nervous system and allow for greater movement of the pelvic floor muscles, which is necessary to relax and lengthen the muscles.
Once a proper breathing pattern was established, it was time for…
Step 2: Yin Yoga & Stress Management
She decided the best course of action was to contact a Registered Psychotherapist to help her more effectively manage stress.
Two weeks later, she noticed a significant improvement in her symptoms. One month later, they were completely resolved.
Overactive pelvic floor muscles can manifest in all different ways.
Some other symptoms include:
· incomplete emptying of urine from the bladder
· difficulty stopping or starting a stream
· constipation or incontinence
· pain during or after bowel movements
· pain during or after intercourse, orgasm or sexual stimulation
· pain in the low back, hips, Sacro Illiac (SI) joint
The underlying cause of this overactivity is different for everyone, but the most common causes are:
· labour and delivery
· pelvic or abdominal surgery
· stress, anxiety, depression or any emotion that increases the sympathetic nervous system over a prolonged period of time
· psycho-emotional trauma
· maladaptive techniques to reach the demands of postures and/or activity
· pain (not just limited to the low back, hips, pelvis, SI joint)
· scars (for example, c-section or episiotomy (cut made during delivery))
An individualized treatment plan can include one or many of the following:
· activities that decrease the sympathetic nervous system, such as mediation, yin yoga, qi gong
· reverse kegels (eg. Relaxing the pelvic floor)
· treating constipation
· regular diaphragmatic breathing
· pain education
· medication prescribed by your doctor (for example local estrogen, antidepressants and antianxiety)
· scar release and massage
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact us today.