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Apr 16, 2015

Patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer may undergo a procedure called mesorectal excision as part of their oncology management. In this procedure, a significant portion of the bowel is removed along with the tumor. Total mesorectal excision refers to the entire rectum and mesorectum (peritoneum that connects the upper rectum.) The rectum is removed up to the level of the levator muscles, and this procedure is indicated for tumors of the middle and lower rectum. In a study published in the World Journal of Oncology, the authors report on female urogenital dysfunction following total mesorectal excision (TME).


Questionnaires were returned by 18 women (age range 34-86) who had undergone TME for rectal cancer. Results of the study are summarized in the chart below. (All patients had reported vaginal childbirth, and five had undergone total abdominal hysterectomy and oophrectomy.)



Sexual function

5/18 (28%) were sexually active (with no complaints of dyspareunia) Sexually active patients remained active but all reported discomfort with penetration
2 patients reported decreased libido due to stoma

Urinary function

3/18 (17%) reported urinary urgency and frequency Of patients with urinary symptoms, 80% persisted longer than 3 months post-surgery
7/18 (39%) reported stress urinary incontinence
New onset symptoms: 61% developed nocturia, 20% developed stress urinary incontinence, 1 patient required permanent catheter


Apr 15, 2015

This post was written by Jennafer Vande Vegte, MSPT, BCB-PMD, PRPC. You can catch Jennafer teaching the Pelvic Floor Level 2B course this weekend in Columbus.


mesh complications

"I hate my vagina and my vagina hates me. We have a hate- hate relationship'" said my patient Sandy (name has been changed) to me after treatment. Sandy's harsh words settled between us. I understood perfectly why she might feel this way. I have been treating Sandy on and off for four years. She has had over fifteen pelvic surgeries. Her journey started with a hysterectomy and mesh implantation to treat her prolapsed bladder. She did well for several months and then her pain began. Her physician refused to believe that her pain was coming from the mesh. This pattern was repeated for several years as Sandy tried in vain to explain her pain to her medical providers. She was told her pain was all in her head and put on psych meds. Finally, five years later, Sandy found her way to an experienced urogynecologist who recognized that Sandy was having a reaction to the mesh from her prolapse surgery. It turns out that Sandy's body rejected the mesh like an allergen. Her tissues had built up fibrotic nodules to protect itself from exposure to the mesh. It has taken years and multiple operations to remove all the mesh and all the nodules. Of course then Sandy's prolapse recurred as well as her stress incontinence and she recently had surgery to try to give her some support. In PT we attempted to manage her pain, normalize her pelvic floor function, strengthen her supportive muscles and fascia. Due to years of chronic pain, her pelvic floor would spasm so completely internal work was not possible. Sandy began to also get Botox injections to her pelvic floor and pudendal nerve blocks. She uses Flexeril, Lidocaine and Valium vaginally three times a day to manage her chronic pelvic pain. She is on disability because she cannot work. Later this month Sandy will have her 16th surgery to remove a hematoma caused by her previous surgery and another nodule that we found in her left vulva. Sandy is the most complicated case of mesh complication that I have seen in my practice, however I regularly see women who have had problems with mesh that we manage through PT and also women that have had mesh removal. No one expects to have complications with their surgery and when they do it can be life altering.


In a recent review of the literature surrounding mesh complications Barski and Deng cite that over 300,000 women in the US will undergo surgical correction for stress incontinence (SUI) or pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Mesh related complications have been reported at rates of 15-25%. Mesh removal occurs at a rate of 1-2%. Mesh erosion will occur in 10% of women. There are over 30,000 cases in US courts today related to pain and disability due to mesh complications. The authors looked at mesh complication statistics from studies concerning three surgical procedures: mid urethral slings, transvaginal mesh and abdominal colposacropexy .


Apr 14, 2015

In our weekly feature section, Pelvic Rehab Report is proud to present this interview with Herman & Wallace instructor Allison Ariail, PT, DPT, CLT-LANA, PRPC, BCB-PMD


Allison Ariail

How did you get started in pelvic rehab?

I got started in pelvic rehab by treating and specializing in SIJ and low back dysfunction. I used ultrasound imaging to retrain the local core muscles including the transverse abdominis, lumbar multifidus, and the pelvic floor muscles. In treating these patients, not only did they improve with respects to their back pain, but their incontinence improved as well! I then started getting referrals from doctors for incontinence patients. So I took PF1 and as they say, the rest is history! I know that pelvic rehab is my calling. I am impassioned about this subject and love treating these patients. I also thoroughly enjoy teaching about the pelvic floor and the pelvic ring. I truly feel I am one of the lucky ones to actually love what I do!


What do you find most rewarding about treating this patient population?

Apr 13, 2015

This post was written by Eric Dinkins, PT, MSPT, OCS, MCTA, CMP, Cert. MT, who will be instructing the brand new course, Manual Therapy for the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex: Mobilization with Movement including Laser-Guided Feedback for Core Stabilization. Pelvic Rehab Report sat down with Eric to learn a little bit more about his course and his clinical approach


Eric Dinkins

Can you describe the clinical/treatment approach/techniques covered in this continuing education course?

During this two day lab based course, clinicians will learn anatomy, assessment techniques, and manual therapy techniques that are designed to minimize pain and restore function immediately. As a bonus, clinicians will be introduced to stabilization exercises utilizing the Motion Guidance visual feedback system for these areas. This system allows for immediate feedback for both the clinician and the patient on determining preferred or substituted movement patterns, and enhancing motor learning to quickly address these patterns if desired.


What inspired you to create this course?

Apr 10, 2015

Blog by Holly Tanner

Among the challenges in research for chronic pelvic pain is the lack of consensus about diagnosis and intervention. Prominent researchers and physicians J. Curtis Nickel and Daniel Shoskes describe a methodology for classification of male chronic pelvic pain using phenotyping, which can be simply described as “a set of observable characteristics.” The authors point out in this article that men with complaints of pelvic pain have historically been treated with antibiotics, even though now it is known that most cases of “prostatitis” are not true infections. With most patients having chronic pelvic pain presenting with varied causes, symptoms, and responses to treatment, Nickel and Shoskes acknowledge that traditional medical approaches have not been successful.


In an attempt to improve classification of patients and subsequent treatment approaches, the UPOINT system was developed. The domains of the system include urinary, psychosocial, organ specific, infection, neurological/systemic conditions, and tenderness of skeletal muscles, and are listed below. Within each domain, the clinical description has been adapted from the original study (which can be accessed full text at the link above.)


UPOINT Domains


Apr 09, 2015

Prolapse Bladder

You know how some women report that they have a mild prolapse that feels better if they wear a tampon during strenuous activity, or that a tampon worn (temporarily) helps avoid urinary leakage? Using a tampon instead of a pessary seems like a great fix, with one problem: tampons are not designed to be used as a pessary. They are designed to be absorptive and to expand to fill the vaginal canal as they expand. Some women can even suffer from toxic shock syndrome - a condition related to bacterial infection and associated with super-absorbent tampon use, contraceptives, and diaphragm use. What if an item could be used that is similar to a tampon, but not absorptive, and that provided more support than a cylindrical-shaped tampon? That must have been what Kimberly Clark, the manufacturer of a new product, created to fit this need.


The Impressa is marketed as a device for urinary incontinence that a patient can buy over-the-counter. The product comes in an applicator and can be inserted similarly to the way a tampon is, but the Impressa is not made to absorb leaks. Once inserted, the product has an interesting shape that is designed to help support the urethra. The device comes in 3 sizes labeled 1, 2, and 3, and the product has a "sizing kit" with 2 of each size in a box that can be trialed for finding the best fit. It will be interesting to see how valuable this product is and we will only know as we begin to hear feedback from their use. Pessary fit is a tough process in that providers and patients often have to go through a period of trial and error for best fit, and also because providers are poorly reimbursed for management of pessary fit and use. (Click here to read more on the blog about prolapse and pessaries.)


It appears that the product is not yet widely available, but it will be interesting to hear women's' experiences about the product. Having an option for an affordable, disposable pessary-like device that is available over-the-counter could be a very helpful option to know about. Health professionals can go to the website impressapro.com to send an email requesting a sample or more information. And thank you to certified Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner Joyce Steele for sharing information about the Impressa as this may be something your patients start asking more about. To learn more about prolapse management and female pelvic floor dysfunction, come to one of our intermediate-level continuing education courses, PF2B. The next opportunities to take this class (that aren't sold out!) are in Connecticut, North Carolina, and Missouri this year.

Apr 08, 2015

This post was written by Allison Ariail, PT, DPT, CLT-LANA, PRPC, BCB-PMD. You can catch Allison teaching the Pelvic Floor Level 1 course in May in Los Angeles.


Blog by  Allison Ariail

Dysmenorrhea is the medical term used for painful menstruation. Symptoms usually begin 1 or 2 days before or the first day of menstruation and include headache, low back and thigh pain, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive fatigue. Sixty percent of women suffer from dysmenorrhea, with many of these women being incapacitated for up to 3 days each month due to symptoms. There are two types of dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is menstrual pain that is not caused from another disorder or disease. Secondary dysmenorrhea is menstrual pain that is due to a disorder in the pelvic organs including endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical stenosis, or infection. In the past, treatment approaches for primary dysmenorrhea have included the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, hormonal contraceptives, vitamins, and acupuncture. There have not been many studies that look at how physical activity influences the degree of pain for women with primary Dysmenorrhea. However, clinical experience has shown me that some women who begin exercising regularly decrease their dysmenorrhea symptoms compared to what they previously experienced. So I have done a search to find some studies that address this matter.


A Cochrane review found only one study that used a control group. In this study, the experimental group participated in a 12-week walking or jogging program at 70-80% of heart rate range, 3 days a week for 30 minutes. Moos’ Menstrual Distress Inventory was used to measure outcomes. This was given pre-training, post-training, and during the premenstrual and inter-menstrual phases for the three hormonal cycles measured. There were significant lower scores on the Moos’ Menstrual Distress Inventory during the menstrual phase in the group that participated in exercise compared to the control group. Additionally, there was a negative linear trend in scores over the three observed cycles for the training group with no linear trend seen in the control group.1 So the exercise group lessoned the degree of their symptoms over the three months by participating in the walking program!


Apr 07, 2015


Patients who suffer severe bladder damage or bladder disease such as invasive cancer may have the entire bladder removed in a cystectomy procedure. Once the bladder is removed, a surgeon can use a portion of the patient's ileum (the final part of the small intestines) or other part of the intestine to create a pouch or reservoir to hold urine. This procedure can be done using an open surgical approach or a laparoscopic approach. Once this new pouch is attached to the ureters and to the urethra, the "new bladder" can fill and stretch to accommodate the urine. As the neobladder cannot contract, a person will use abdominal muscle contractions along with pelvic floor relaxation to empty. If a person cannot empty the bladder adequately, a catheter may need to be utilized. (A prior blog post reported on potential complications of and resources for learning about neobladder surgery.)


During the recovery from surgery, patients will wear a catheter for a few weeks while the tissues heal. Once the catheter has been removed, patients may be instructed to urinate every 2 hours, both during the day and at night. Because patients will not have the same neurological supply to alert them of bladder filling, it will be necessary to void on a timed schedule. The time between voids can be lengthened to every 3-4 hours. Night time emptying may still occur up to two times/evening. Patient recommendations following the procedure may include that patients drink plenty of fluids, eat a healthy diet, and gradually return to normal activities. Adequate fluid is important in helping to flush mucous that is in the urine. This mucous is caused by the bowel tissue used to create the neobladder, and will reduce over time.


Urinary leakage is more common at night in patients who have had the procedure, and this often improves over a period of time, even a year or two after the surgery. As pelvic rehabilitation providers, we may be offering education about healthy diet and fluid intake, pelvic and abdominal muscle health and coordination, function retraining and instruction in return to activities. In addition to having gone through a major surgical procedure, patients may also have experienced a period of radiation, other treatments, or debility that may limit their activity levels. The Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute is pleased to offer courses by faculty member Michelle Lyons in Oncology and the Pelvic Floor, Part A: Female Reproductive and Gynecologic Cancers, and Part B: Male Reproductive, Bladder, and Colorectal Cancers. If you would like to explore pelvic rehabilitation in relation to oncology issues, there is still time to register for the Part A course taking place in Torrance, California in May! If you would like to host either of these courses at your facility, let us know!

Apr 06, 2015

In our weekly feature section, Pelvic Rehab Report is proud to present this interview with Herman & Wallace instructor Peter Philip, PT, ScD, COMT, PRPC


Peter Philip

How did you get started in pelvic rehab?

While treating an MD, OB-GYN, he asked me a question regarding a patient that he was treating that was suffering from dyspareunia. I’d just completed my Master's in orthopedic physical therapy and realized that there was an entire section of the body that was "full of muscles, ligaments and nerves” of which I had virtually no knowledge. This bothered me, so I began my own independent research, study and application of skills learned through continuing education, and application of what are typically considered to be ‘orthopedic’ techniques to the pelvic pain/dysfunction population. To my (continued) wonderment, the patients responded exceptionally well, and efficiently.


Who or what inspired you?

Apr 03, 2015

Blog by Holly Tanner

In a case report published within the past year by physical therapist Karen Litos, a detailed and thorough case study describes the therapeutic progression and outcomes for a woman with significant functional limitation due to a separation of her diastasis recti muscles. The patient in the case is described as a 32-year-old G2P2 African-American woman referred to PT at 7 weeks postpartum. Delivery occurred vaginally with epidural, no perineal tearing, and pushing time of less than an hour. Primary concerns of the patient included burning or sharp abdominal pain when lifting, standing, and walking. Uterine contractions that naturally occurred during breastfeeding also worsened the abdominal pain and caused the patient to discontinue breastfeeding. The patient furthermore reported sensations that her insides felt like they would fall out, and abdominal muscle weakness and fatigue with activity.


Although many other significant details related to history, examination and evaluation were included in the case report, I will focus on the signs, interventions, and outcomes recorded in the paper. Diastasis was measured using finger width assessment and a tape measure. (Although ultrasound is more accurate and valid, palpation of diastasis has been demonstrated to have good intra-rater reliability as used in this study. Measures for interrecti distance (IRD) at time of evaluation were 11.5 cm at the umbilicus, 8 cm above the umbilicus, and 5 cm below the umbilicus. The patient also reported pain on the visual analog scale (VAS) of 3-8/10.


Interventions in rehabilitation included, but were not limited to: instruction in wearing an abdominal binder, appropriate abdominal and trunk strengthening (promotion of efficient load transfer and avoidance of exercises that may worsen separation), biomechanics training with functional tasks such as transfers, self-bracing of abdominals, avoiding Valsalva, postural alignment and symmetrical weight-bearing strategies. Plan of care was developed as 2-3x/week for 2-3 weeks, the patient was seen for 18 visits over a four month period. Therapeutic exercise was progressed to include general hip and trunk muscle strengthening towards a goal of stability during movement. Cardiovascular training progressed to light treadmill jogging and use of an elliptical.


Upcoming Continuing Education Courses

Special Topics in Women's Health - Maywood, IL
May 30, 2015 - May 31, 2015
Location: Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine

Sacroiliac Joint Evaluation and Treatment - Middletown, CT
May 30, 2015 - May 31, 2015
Location: Middlesex Hospital

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Seattle, WA (Sold Out!)
Jun 05, 2015 - Jun 07, 2015
Location: Swedish Medical Center Seattle - Ballard Campus

Pelvic Floor Level 3 - Atlanta, GA
Jun 05, 2015 - Jun 07, 2015
Location: One on One Physical Therapy

Visceral Mobilization of the Urologic System - Madison, WI
Jun 05, 2015 - Jun 07, 2015
Location: Meriter Hospital

Nutritional Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist - Seattle, WA
Jun 06, 2015 - Jun 07, 2015
Location: Pacific Medical Center

Rehabilitative Ultra Sound Imaging: Orthopedic Topics - Baltimore, MD
Jun 12, 2015 - Jun 13, 2015
Location: Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

Rehabilitative Ultra Sound Imaging: Women's Health and Orthopedic Topics - Baltimore, MD
Jun 12, 2015 - Jun 14, 2015
Location: Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Boston, MA (SOLD OUT!)
Jun 12, 2015 - Jun 14, 2015
Location: Marathon Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Derby, CT (SOLD OUT)
Jun 26, 2015 - Jun 28, 2015
Location: Griffin Hospital

Breast Oncology - Maywood, IL
Jun 27, 2015 - Jun 28, 2015
Location: Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine

Chronic Pelvic Pain - Arlington, VA
Jul 10, 2015 - Jul 12, 2015
Location: Virginia Hospital Center

Myofascial Release for Pelvic Dysfunction - Winfield, IL
Jul 17, 2015 - Jul 19, 2015
Location: Central DuPage Hospital Conference Room

Pediatric Incontinence - Houston, TX
Jul 18, 2015 - Jul 19, 2015
Location: Texas Children’s Hospital

Yoga for Pelvic Pain - Cleveland, OH
Jul 18, 2015 - Jul 19, 2015
Location: UH Case Medical Center - University Hospitals