Login / Create an Account

Phone646.355.8777


 

Can you list the three components of the female athlete triad? In an article published in a physical therapy sports journal 205 physical therapists were asked this same question, and only 21% of the therapists could list all components. These components are disordered eating (not to be confused with "eating disorder" because that is a more narrow description), menstrual dysfunction, and lowered bone density. The study further describes the strategies that surveyed physical therapists utilize to treat and/or prevent the female athlete triad. 

 

Pantano, the author of this study, points out that "...therapists must be responsible for recognizing, treating and preventing the female athlete triad."  Nearly 25% of the respondents surveyed described involvement in treatment via education (to include the patient, family, physician, or coach) or referral of the athlete, screening of the athlete, and nearly 50% reported efforts at prevention of the disorder. It is interesting to note that the surveys were sent to members of either the Orthopedic or the Sports Physical Therapy Specialty groups of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), and many of the PT's who participated in the study were also certified in athletic training and interfaced often with female athletes.

 

Regardless of how often we work with athletes, it is crucial for pelvic rehabilitation providers to be globally aware of the signs, risks, and treatments for female athlete triad. In the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) position statement on the management of disordered eating in athletes, it is pointed out that disordered eating (DE) can not only impair health and function, but DE can be fatal. This article that you can access in full text contains excellent screening tools, advice for referrals to nutrition experts, and information about current treatment. 

 

At a minimum, we must be aware that adolescent females can suffer from disordered eating that leads to poor energy availability in the body, with increased risk of menstrual dysfunction, and decreased bone density and risk for fractures in athletes. Knowing how to ask the right questions, provide education and communicate with a team of providers can improve the lives of athletes who are at risk for female athlete triad symptoms. The NATA guidelines suggest that female athletes should be evaluated within the first 3 months of amenorrhea so that aggressive screening and treatment can be implemented. It is common for an athlete to have one or two of the components, such as disordered eating and amenorrhea without bone loss. The guidelines also point out that males can suffer equally from disordered eating and a high suspicion should be in place for male athletes who are reluctant to discuss their eating patterns, regardless of the sport in which he participates.

 

 

Most of us, regardless of treatment setting, can make use of this information to maximize our awareness of the profound affects that athletics and improper diet can have on our female patients. Opportunities are available in our communities as well as in the clinical setting for educating others about the risks and about the available treatments.

 


Comments (1)Add Comment
0
Educating Everyone about the Female Triad
written by Warren Potash, December 29, 2011
Terrific article as the female triad needs to become more well known.

Another important issue is the difference between eating disorders (bulimia, etc. that many people know about) and disordered eating which is not well known.

Disordered eating runs rampant in the teen female athlete population and can lead to parts of the female triad.

Write comment

busy

Upcoming Continuing Education Courses

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - St. Louis, MO (SOLD OUT!)
Sep 05, 2014 - Sep 07, 2014
Location: Washington University School of Medicine

Meditation and Pain Neuroscience - Winfield, IL
Sep 06, 2014 - Sep 07, 2014
Location: Central DuPage Hospital Conference Room

Visceral Mobilization Level Two - Boston, MA
Sep 12, 2014 - Sep 14, 2014
Location: Marathon Physical Therapy

Coccyx Pain - Nashua, NH
Sep 13, 2014 - Sep 14, 2014
Location: St. Joseph Hospital Rehabilitative Services

Visceral Mobilization of the Urologic System - Scottsdale, AZ
Sep 19, 2014 - Sep 21, 2014
Location: Womens Center for Wellness and Rehabilitation

Care of the Postpartum Patient - Maywood, IL
Sep 20, 2014 - Sep 21, 2014
Location: Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine

Pelvic Floor/ Pelvic Girdle - Atlanta, GA
Sep 27, 2014 - Sep 28, 2014
Location: One on One Physical Therapy

Assessing and Treating Vulvodynia - Waterford, CT
Sep 27, 2014 - Sep 28, 2014
Location: Visiting Nurses Association - Southeastern

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Durham, NC
Oct 03, 2014 - Oct 05, 2014
Location: Duke University Medical Center

Male Pelvic Floor - Tampa, FL
Oct 04, 2014 - Oct 05, 2014
Location: Florida Hospital - Wesley Chapel

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - St. Louis, MO (Sold Out!)
Oct 10, 2014 - Oct 12, 2014
Location: Washington University School of Medicine

Chronic Pelvic Pain - New Canaan, CT
Oct 10, 2014 - Oct 12, 2014
Location: Philip Physical Therapy

Peripartum Special Topics - Houston, TX
Oct 11, 2014 - Oct 12, 2014
Location: Texas Children’s Hospital

Pelvic Floor Level 3 - Maywood, IL
Oct 17, 2014 - Oct 19, 2014
Location: Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine

Lymphatic Drainage - San Diego, CA
Oct 18, 2014 - Oct 19, 2014
Location: FunctionSmart Physical Therapy