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.
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!
A study by Maceno de Araujo et al. looked at the severity of primary dysmenorrhea symptoms before and after participating in a two month Pilates exercise regimen 2 times per week for 60 minutes. Outcome measures used included visual analog scale and McGill Pain Questionnaire. Although this study did not use a control group and the number of participants was low (n=10), it did show significant changes in pain scores during menstruation when comparing little to no exercise to a regular exercise program of Pilates. Pain scores due to menstruation prior to the study were 7.89 ± 1.96, and dropped to 2.56 ± .56 with the exercise program!
I found these articles interesting and began to wonder how many women we as therapists could help by knowing this information! I do not think that we as pelvic heath therapists are reaching this population of patient diagnoses. Yes, starting an exercise regimen, especially a walking program, sounds easy to us as physical therapists or occupational therapists. However, it can be daunting to a woman who has not previously participated in any type of exercise program. Meeting with some of these women who suffer from primary dysmenorrhea and evaluating any musculoskeletal dysfunctions that are present, then prescribing an appropriate exercise routine that is individualized for that patient can help the patient stay committed to the program. In finding this information, I am excited to pass it along to my patients and future patients in hopes of improving their life and lessening their discomforts! Join me to discuss this topic as well as others related to the pelvic floor in Los Angeles at PF1!
1. Brown J, Brown S. Exercise for dysmenorrhea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD004142. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004142.pub2.
2. Macêdo de Araújo L; Nunes da Silva JM; Tavares Bastos W; Lima Venutra P. Pain improvement in women with primary dysmenorrhea treated with Pilates. Revista Dor. 2012; 13(2).
This post was written by Steven Dischiavi, MPT, DPT, ATC, COMT, CSCS, who teaches the course Biomechanical Assessment of the Hip and Pelvis. You can catch Steve teaching this course in May at Duke University in Durham, NC.
One thing that jumps out at me when treating a professional athlete, is that they have “a guy or gal” for everything! Most high profile athletes have a physical therapist, athletic trainer, acupuncturist, nutritionist, massage therapist, personal trainers for speed, power, cross fit, and pretty much “a guy or gal” for anything that has something to do with athletic performance or injury prevention. In most recent years I have been hearing more and more that athletes use someone that can analyze their movement and develop corrective exercises for them. These professionals are not just physical therapists, but some are personal trainers, exercise physiologists, chiropractors, and so on…
This has clearly been leading to a paradigm shift in not only evaluation of the athlete, but more specifically how we treat our athletes and clients. The Functional Movement Assessment is a tool that is gaining more and more popularity. It identifies “movement dysfunction” and then sets out to manage these movement patterns. I am a firm believer in functional movement assessment, and I believe it does need a larger role in our profession…I believe this so strongly I have recently changed gears professionally and have accepted an assistant professor position on the Physical Therapy faculty at High Point University. I want to affect change from within!
That said this is a very slippery slope right now in our profession. There are many people that believe that functional assessment is necessary. These same people cannot agree on the best way to do this and the there is a paucity of evidence to support a specific method at this time. This has driven me to continue to push the envelope in how to assess human movement and what is the cornerstone of this philosophy. I think the cornerstone is the hip and pelvis. I know this is somewhat broad, but after working professional hockey for 10 years I saw first hand what the hip and pelvis brings to the table. This led me to integrate this cornerstone into all facets of my treatments with all types of clients, young, old, big, small, athletic human, non-athletic humans! It was a quantum leap when the evidence caught up to practice and we stopped taping the patella because we were able to wrap our heads around the fact that it’s the track moving under the train! This momentum continues, because I am in a state of the art biomechanics lab everyday watching and learning how we can extrapolate these concepts and continue to move forward and advance movement theory. This has also allowed me to see that there is still a need about how we treat movement dysfunction. Which has led me to continue to work on the concept of the Dynamic Integration of the Myofascial Sling Systems!
If you attend this course I think you will look at human movement a little differently. I think you’ll enjoy the creative ways we can activate particular muscle chains to integrate and coordinate complex movements with more efficiency.
Yes, Herman & Wallace traditionally focuses on the women’s health practitioner. This course gives women’s health practitioners more treatment options to go with their unbelievable manual therapy skill set. This course offers many therapeutic exercise options that can help control the neurologic changes they are creating with their clients. Past course participants from the women’s health arena have continuously commented that they have gained a new tool in their toolbox to address movement imbalances and a way to integrate more function into their exercise programs. The sports and ortho PT will really enjoy this course. It will challenge some of their current paradigms and stir up some lively conversation on functional movement assessment and how to treat movement dysfunction when identified. Sports/ortho PTs consistently report how refreshing it is to consider new things in the profession. These PTs will leave this course challenging some of the traditional approaches they have taken. The reports back to me are usually that the sports/ortho PTs have had fun at this course and look forward to trying what they have learned and performed in lab sessions and applying it with their clients. I look forward to having you in class and having some fun and trying a lot of new exercises and discussing how the assessment of human movement and how identifying movement dysfunction is the direction things are going. William Blake once said “what is now proven, was once only imagined!” I don’t think movement analysis is quite proven yet, but we’re definitely applying science to the art of practice!
This post was written by Megan Pribyl MSPT, who teaches the course Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist. You can catch Megan teaching this course in June in Seattle.
Convalescence and mitohormesis…really big words that in a scientific way suggest “BALANCE”. In our modern world, there are many factors that influence the pervasive trend of being “on” or in perpetual “go mode”. We see the effects of this in clinical practice every day. The sympathetic system is in overdrive and the parasympathetic system is in a state of neglect and disrepair. And so we reflect on that word “balance” through the concepts of convalescence and mitohormesis.
“In the past, it was taken for granted that any illness would require a decent period of recovery after it had passed, a period of recuperation, of convalescence, without which recurrence was possible or likely.
Convalescence fell out of favor as powerful modern drugs emerged. It appeared that [antibiotics] and the steroid anti-inflammatories produced so dramatic a resolution of the old killer diseases… that all the time spent convalescing was no longer necessary.” (Bone, 2013)
How many of us take the time to convalesce after even a minor cold or flu? “Convalescence needs time, one of the hardest commodities now to find.” (Bone, 2013) We live in a culture where getting well FAST typically takes priority over getting well WELL.
On the flip-side of convalescence lies mitohormesis, or stress-response hormesis. Simply put, hormesis describes the beneficial effects of a treatment (or stressor) that at a higher intensity is harmful. Without mitohormesis, the driving, adaptive forces of life might lie dormant or find dysfuction. In a recent article (Ristow, 2014) mitohormesis is discussed: “Increasing evidence indicates that reactive oxygen species (ROS) do not only cause oxidative stress, but rather may function as signaling molecules that promote health by preventing or delaying a number of chronic diseases, and ultimately extend lifespan. While high levels of ROS are generally accepted to cause cellular damage and to promote aging, low levels of these may rather improve systemic defense mechanisms by inducing an adaptive response.”
Relevant to nutritional trends, Tapia (2006) suggests this perspective: “it may be necessary…to engender a more sanguine perspective on organelle level physiology, as… such entities have an evolutionarily orchestrated capacity to self-regulate that may be pathologically disturbed by overzealous use of antioxidants, particularly in the healthy.” Think of mitohormesis as the cellular-level forces that spur change. Motivation….drive….exhilaration. These life-sprurring stressors include physical activity and glucose restriction among other interventions.
The natural world is full of contrasts; day and night, winter and summer, land and sea, sun and rain. These contrasts are not only essential in creating rhythm to our existence, but necessary as driving forces of life. But what happens when there is not a balance of activity and rest? What happens when our energy systems go haywire? What nutritional factors play a role in whether a client of yours will have a healing and helpful course of therapy or may struggle with the healing process? How might we frame our understanding of the importance of balance through the lens of nourishment?
March is “National Nutrition Month”! It’s a perfect time to register for our brand new continuing education course Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist to learn more about how nutrition impacts our clinical practice. To register for the course taking place in June in Seattle, click here.
Bone, K. Mills, S. (2013) Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy; Modern Herbal Medicine. Second Edition. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
Gems, D., & Partridge, L. (2008). Stress-response hormesis and aging: "that which does not kill us makes us stronger". Cell Metab, 7(3), 200-203. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2008.01.001
Ristow, M., & Schmeisser, K. (2014). Mitohormesis: Promoting Health and Lifespan by Increased Levels of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). Dose Response, 12(2), 288-341. doi: 10.2203/dose-response.13-035.Ristow
Tapia, P. C. (2006). Sublethal mitochondrial stress with an attendant stoichiometric augmentation of reactive oxygen species may precipitate many of the beneficial alterations in cellular physiology produced by caloric restriction, intermittent fasting, exercise and dietary phytonutrients: "Mitohormesis" for health and vitality. Med Hypotheses, 66(4), 832-843. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2005.09.009
The following is a guest post from Isa Herrera, MSPT, CSCS owner of Renew Physical Therapy in New York, NY. Isa recently launched her new online course "Low Level Laser Therapy For Female Pelvic Pain Conditions" found at www.PelvicPainRelief/laser.
Physical therapists deal with chronic pain that can be problematic to treat and manage on a daily basis. There is an arsenal of tools, exercises and techniques at their disposal, but many times using a modality can help accelerate the pain-relieving process for their patients. Pelvic floor physical therapists in particular treat an extremely difficult type of chronic pain loosely classified under the umbrella term "pelvic pain." Pelvic pain can express itself as vulvodynia, clitorodynia, provoked vestibulodynia, pudendal nerve neuralgia, vaginismus and/or dyspareunia. These conditions are common, with 1 in 3 women suffering from pelvic and/or sexual pain in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 30 million suffer from this silent epidemic. As physical therapists we are on the first line of defense and we must be prepared to provide the pain relief that these women so desperately seek.
Chronic pelvic pain is very different from other types of pain because it's intimately connected to our emotional, spiritual and psychological states, and can involve the nervous, endocrine, visceral, gynecological, urological and muscular systems. It can be very difficult to treat, and can require anywhere from six months to one year of physical therapy, depending on patient presentation and history.
This lengthy course of treatment requires a fresh approach to therapy and modalities. When I started treating this population I had many difficulties controlling their pain and I had to think differently. Electrical stimulation and ultrasound were not working as well as I'd hoped, providing insufficient pain relief to these patients. I needed a modality that, when incorporated with my pelvic pain treatment, could help produce immediate and long-lasting pain-relieving effects. I needed a modality that could significantly decrease pain within one session, and that my patients could believe in because of the results.
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) proved to be my secret weapon when treating women with chronic pelvic pain. (I frequently call it "light therapy," because many patients don't like the term "laser.") I have been successfully using light therapy for nearly ten years. It helped my patients keep their pain at bay, and many request that I use it as part of their therapy. I have had incredible patient outcomes when I use LLLT. Of course, for light therapy to work with this difficult population a foundational knowledge and established protocols are required.
LLLT was approved by the FDA in 2002. At that time, the modality was hailed by the New England Patriots and the U.S. Olympic Committee, among others, for its ability to help top athletes quickly return from injury. Endorsements from these organizations piqued my interest and I decided to research its principles. I now know firsthand about the miraculous effects of LLLT. From my own personal experience and from treating thousands of patients I realized that LLLT could be used on many levels.
LLLT is unique: it is a cellular bio-stimulator and is used to increase vitality of cells as well as processes that occur within the cell. The goal with LLLT is to stimulate health and vitality within the cell to produce pain relief, collagen synthesis, anti-inflammatory effects, and endorphin production. Pain- relieving results can be felt in the first visit.
My ten years of experience using LLLT have led me to develop low-level laser protocols for female pelvic floor conditions. These protocols are extremely useful for any practitioners wanting to purchase a laser as a new pain-relieving modality for their clinic.
LLLT has changed the way I treat all pain syndromes. It's had such a positive impact that I've created laser protocols for vulvodynia, scar and bladder pain. I also created a special class for the Herman and Wallace Institute program for physical therapists who treat chronic pelvic pain. I encourage any colleagues specializing in this population to investigate this remarkable modality and to attend the online class. If you are looking for something different and a modality that will change the way you treat, come and learn how to use if effectively. My Low-Level Laser Therapy for Female Pelvic Floor Conditions online course incorporates evidence-based science into the low-level laser protocols that you can bring into your practice immediately. This online continuing educational course is designed to provide a thorough introduction to LLLT and its application to female pelvic pain conditions. It is approved for 13 CEU’s and contains ten modules. All ten modules provide step-by-step treatment protocols, videos and PowerPoints. This online class includes protocols for bladder pain, scar pain, coccyx pain, vulvodynia, clitorodynia, provoked vestibulodynia, pudendal nerve neuralgia, vaginismus and dyspareunia.
This new and exciting online class will put you and your practice on the forefront finally providing pain relief for your patients that lasts and improves your outcome measures.
For more info on the low-level laser online training class for female pelvic floor conditions go to www.PelvicPainRelief/laser.
Basford et al. Laser therapy: a randomized, controlled trial of the effects of low-intensity Nd:YAG laser irradiation on musculoskeletal back pain. Arch Phys Med Rehabil (1999) vol. 80 (6) pp. 647-52.
Bjordal et al. A systematic review of low level laser therapy with location-specific doses for pain from chronic joint disorders. Aust J Physiother (2003) vol. 49 (2) pp. 107-16.
Chow et al. The effect of 300 mW, 830 nm laser on chronic neck pain: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Pain (2006) vol. 124 (1-2) pp. 201-10.
Harlow BL, Kunitz CG, Nguyen RHN, et al. Prevalence of symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of vulvodynia: population-based estimates from 2 geographic regions. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014; 210:40.
Kostantinovic et al. Low level laser therapy for acute neck pain with radiculopathy: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized study. Pain Medicine (2010) vol. 11 pp. 1169-1178.
Mathias SD1, Kuppermann M, Liberman RF, et al. Chronic pelvic pain: prevalence, health-related quality of life, and economic correlates. Obstet Gynecol. 1996;87(3):321–327.
Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Capodagli, DPT, our featured practitioner of the week! Dr. Capodagli owns and operates CorrEra Physical Therapy, and she is in the process of expanding her practice in Buffalo, NY. We were curious to hear more from her about running a practice in Buffalo, and Sarah was kind enough to write in. Thanks, Sarah!
Although Buffalo is considered the second largest city in the state of New York, we often operate like a small town. We value community and for just about any business, the best marketing tool is word of mouth. If you need a new roof, new car, or a good doctor, well, ask around and I guarantee that you will find someone who “knows a guy,” to help or advise. I cannot speak for every city, though when I think of Buffalo, NY, I think of family. When you see your family in need, you help.
A few years ago I was working in a large oncology hospital and one of my primary roles was running the pelvic floor rehabilitation program for men living with or being treated for prostate cancer. I loved this work; however, I saw greater need in our community for not only the proper conservative care and treatment, but also for the information about pelvic health to be shared more publicly with men and women. Although opening my own clinic in a suburb of this “City of Good Neighbors” was not always the plan, when given the opportunity to grow into my own practice by a chiropractor friend, I jumped at the chance and have never looked back. It was a big jump, but for me, the fear of regret in never trying was so much worse than the fear of failure.
The greatest challenge was in actually starting my practice and beginning to educate the community and physicians. In a larger metropolis there is more awareness of this specialty and referrals come more naturally when conservative options are made known to patients. In the beginning I reached out to a mentor, utilized many tools available on the Herman & Wallace website, held free community events, and spent my first few months focused on networking. Once introduced to some fabulously conservative docs, birthing professionals, and physical therapists who were aware of the benefits of pelvic floor rehab, I really started to see the growth. I became an advocate for patients – a navigator in this sometimes confusing and frustrating system. People want conservative options and when happy patients return to their physicians with improved symptoms and quality of life, well, now your reputation establishes you as one of the “go-to” practitioners in the community.
Though patience and persistence are crucial in this process of growth, I’m also a firm believer that, as Dr. Francis Peabody stated, “the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.” This belief is what sets me apart, and in a small community this is what really matters. One of my favorite books is The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John D. Mann. I always want my practice and the growth of my business to reflect the strategies of value, service, influence, and authenticity emphasized in this story. In a community where community is valued, I truly believe that if you stay teachable and positive, the care you put into your practice will always pay off.
The following is a guest post from Nancy Fish, LCSW, MPH who will be presenting at the Alliance for Pelvic Pain Retreat on May 20-22 in Ellenville, NY. Check out this flier to learn more about the retreat.
Nancy Fish, LCSW, MPH (co-author, with Deborah Coady,M.D. of Healing Painful Sex)
About the Alliance For Pelvic Pain Retreat, May 20-22, 2016, Ellenville, NY
When thinking about registering for the Alliance for Pelvic Pain Patient Retreat, I imagine you are asking yourself “Why would a person suffering from pelvic pain, with more medical appointments than is humanly possible to handle, add another item on an already overwhelming “to do” list?” It would be completely understandable if that is your initial reaction. So why is this retreat a must in your path to physical and emotional healing? There are so many reasons why this retreat can be a life-altering event but I’ll just name a few compelling ones. As a psychotherapist who specializes in pelvic pain (I am also a pelvic pain patient) the primary challenges I hear from most of my clients are:
If you are reading this blog, I’m sure you can identify with a few if not all of these statements. If only ONE of these statements is something you relate to, then the AFPP retreat is an event you cannot afford to miss. It will provide you with invaluable tools to address all of your concerns. You will have access to some of the world’s most renowned medical, physical therapy, and mental health professionals specializing in the integrative treatment of pelvic pain who will be able to answer any of your questions or concerns. There will be opportunities to register for significantly discounted one on one sessions with expert physical therapists, an Acupuncturist, a yoga instructor, and services from the EarthMind Wellness Center at Honors Haven. You will also be with other individuals who share the same concerns and challenges and you will not have to explain issues like “why you can’t sit” or “why this pain makes you feel you are going crazy.” For the first time in a long time you will not have to justify behaviors or decisions that you are confronted with on a daily basis – you can just be you.
One of the greatest tools you will gain from this retreat is empowerment. Pelvic pain can be so disempowering and our goal is give you the ability to empower yourself so you begin or continue on the path of self-healing through a combination of medical and integrative health techniques. I never ask any of my clients to use a technique that I don’t use myself. And I have found that medical interventions are often essential but not enough. Overcoming pelvic pain takes an “East meets the West” approach using a daily practice of mindfulness, meditation, and other integrative techniques. Participants leave the retreat with a new support system, a sense of self-empowerment, and a host of self-healing practices (such as a physical therapy home program) that will be invaluable on your journey to recovery – and most important, A RENEWED SENSE OF HOPE.
(Spaces are limited so please book your reservation as soon as possible. Also, for funding opportunities, all participants should go to Gofundme.com.)
The following post was contributed by Herman & Wallace faculty member Ramona Horton. Ramona teaches three courses for the Institute; "Myofascial Release for Pelvic Dysfunction", "Mobilization of Visceral Fascia for the Treatment of Pelvic Dysfunction - Level 1: The Urologic System", and "Mobilization of Visceral Fascia for the Treatment of Pelvic Dysfunction - Level 2: The Reproductive System". Join her at Visceral Mobilization of the Urologic System - Madison, WI on June 5-7!
My physical therapy training and initial experience were in the US Army, so I had a strong bias toward utilization of manual therapy techniques based on a structural evaluation. When the birth of my 10 pound baby boy threw me head-long into the desire to become a pelvic dysfunction practitioner, I became plagued by the question: how do you treat the bowel and bladder, without treating the bowel and bladder? That, along with a mild obsession for the study of anatomy was the genesis of my desire to explore the technique of visceral mobilization.
The field of pelvic physical therapy has moved far beyond the rehabilitation of the pelvic floor muscles for the purpose of gaining continence, which was its origin. Now pelvic rehabilitation is a comprehensive specialty within the PT profession, treating a variety of populations and conditions (Haslam & Laycock 2015). Research has provided a greater understanding of the abdomino-pelvic canister as a functional and anatomical construct based on the somatic structures of the abdominal cavity and pelvic basin that work synergistically to support the midline of the body. The canister is bounded by the respiratory diaphragm and crura, along with the psoas muscle whose fascia intimately blends with the pelvic floor and the obturator internus and lastly the transversus abdominis muscle (Lee et al. 2008). The walls of this canister are occupied by and intimately connected to the visceral structures found within. These midline contents carry a significant mass within the body. In order for the canister to move, the viscera must be able to move as well, not only in relationship to one another, but with respect to their surrounding container. There are three primary mechanisms by which disruption of these sliding surfaces could contribute to pain and dysfunction: visceral referred pain, central sensitization and changes in local tissue dynamics.
Since the inception of physical therapy, manual manipulation of tissues has been a foundational practice within the profession. Manual therapy is a generic therapeutic category for hands-on treatment of a structural anomaly; it encompasses a variety of techniques which can be subdivided into either soft tissue based or joint based. Although the majority of manual therapy research has been on the musculoskeletal system, its effects are not exclusive to any particular region of the anatomy. The Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) defines the technique of mobilization as "the act of imparting movement, actively or passively, to a joint or soft tissue" (Farrell & Jensen 1992). Visceral mobilization is a treatment approach focusing on mobilizing the fascial layer of the visceral system with respect to the somatic frame; it therefore falls under the classification of soft tissue based manual therapies. Soft tissue and or fascial based manual therapies have higher-levels of evidence to support their use for treating musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction (Ajimsha & Al-Mudahka 2014; Gay et al. 2013). Although many models have been proposed, the specific mechanisms behind the response of the musculoskeletal system to manual interventions are still not fully understood (Bialosky et al. 2009; Clark & Thomas 2012).
The previous model of manual therapy directly relieving local tissue provocation has given way to a recognition that the observed clinical improvement is not simply a result of the practitioner directly altering the structure beneath their hands through mechanical means. Rather this improvement is a combination of afferent input influencing the neurophysiologic output, changes in the endogenous cannabinoid system, and even a placebo responses simply because of touch (Bialosky et al. 2009; McParland 2008; Gay et al. 2014).
There is significant clinical evidence that issues of somatic pelvic pain, bowel, bladder and reproductive system dysfunction may be the result of visceral referred pain, central sensitization and restrictions in visceral tissue mobility which may further contribute to dysfunction within the canister of core muscles. The musculoskeletal framework is a mysterious, perplexing and complicated system. It is unique in that it offers us a variety of tissues and techniques from which to choose in order to help our patients from a manual therapy perspective. Science has acknowledged that the visceral structures and their connective tissue attachments indeed have an influence on the function of the somatic frame, the question is can we manually manipulate these structures and bring about an effect with a reasonable degree of specificity while producing a therapeutic outcome.
Part 2 of this report will discuss the evidence to support visceral mobilization.
Ajimsha M.S., Al-Mudahka N.R. & Al-Madzhar J.A. (2015) Effectiveness of myofascial release: Systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 19, 102-112.
Clark B.C., Thomas, J.S., Walkowski S., Howell J.N. (2012) The biology of manual therapies. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 112 (9), 617-29.
Bialosky J., Bishop M. & Price D. (2009) The mechanisms of manual therapy in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain: a comprehensive model. Manual Therapy 14 (5), 531-538.
Gay C.W., Robinson M.E., George S.Z., Perlstein W.M. & Bishop M.D. (2014) Immediate changes after manual therapy in resting-state functional connectivity as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging in participants with induced low back pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapeutics 37 (6), 614-627.
Haslam J. & Laycock J. (2015) How did we get here? The development of women’s health physiotherapy special interest groups in the UK. Journal of Pelvic Obstetric and Gynecological Physiotherapy 116 (Spring), 15-24.
Farrell J.P. & Jensen G.M. (1992) Manual therapy: a critical assessment of role in the profession of physical therapy. Physical Therapy 72, 843-852.
Lee D.G., Lee L.J. & McLaughlin L. (2008) Stability, continence and breathing: The role of fascia following pregnancy and delivery. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 12 (4), 333-348.
McPartland J M (2008) Expression of the endocannabinoid system in fibroblasts and myofascial tissues. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 12(2), 169-182.
The following is a contribution from Elisa Marchand, PTA, PRPC. Elisa is the first PTA to become a Certified Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner! Elisa started a Pelvic Floor program with a locally-owned rehab company where she mentored 3 different PT's through the years. In that time, Elisa also taught as an adjunct with the local PTA program. Elisa works at McKenna Physical Therapy in Peoria, IL.
As a physical therapist assistant, the following should cause me to rethink my passion for and practice within women's health PT. "The SOWH is opposed to the teaching of internal pelvic assessment and treatment to all supportive personnel including physical therapist assistants." (Position Statement on Internal Pelvic Floor Assessment and Treatment: Section on Women's Health, APTA; Feb 2014) It should have stopped me from sitting for and becoming the first-ever PTA certified as a PRPC. Fortunately, this is not the case.
I want to be clear from the start; I understand the need for clear boundaries with regards to the scope of practice of PTAs. However, the interpretation of these rules can get quite muddy. In the APTA's "Guide for Conduct of the PTA", the following clarifications are made, including their interpretations:
3C. Physical therapist assistants shall make decisions based upon their level of competence and consistent with patient/client values. Interpretation: To fulfill 3C, the physical therapist assistant must be knowledgeable about his or her legal scope of work as well as level of competence. As a physical therapist assistant gains experience and additional knowledge, there may be areas of physical therapy interventions in which he or she displays advanced skills...To make sound decisions, the physical therapist assistant must be able to self-reflect on his or her current level of competence.
3E. [PTA's] shall provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist and shall communicate with the physical therapist when patient/client status requires modifications to the established plan of care. Interpretation: Standard 3E goes beyond simply stating that the physical therapist assistant operates under the supervision of the physical therapist. Although a physical therapist retains responsibility for the patient/client throughout the episode of care, this standard requires the physical therapist assistant to take action by communicating with the supervising physical therapist when changes in the patient/client status indicate that modifications to the plan of care may be needed.
Through the years of working as a PTA, I have practiced in a variety of settings. Some of these settings have allowed for a high level of autonomy (such as in my current workplace), and some have operated in quite the opposite-- where my treatments were dictated step-by-step by the PT. No matter the state in which one lives, physical therapy clinics will vary in their method of treatment and utilization of PTAs. In Illinois, where I practice, the following is the detailed description of a PTA per the Illinois Practice Act:
"'Physical therapist assistant' means a person licensed to assist a physical therapist and who has met all requirements as provided in this Act and who works under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist to assist in implementing the physical therapy treatment program as established by the licensed physical therapist. The patient care activities provided by the physical therapist assistant shall not include the interpretation of referrals, evaluation procedures, or the planning or major modification of patient programs." (http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1319&ChapterID=24)
Additionally, per the APTA's Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant: "6B. Physical therapist assistants shall engage in lifelong learning consistent with changes in their roles and responsibilities and advances in the practice of physical therapy." (http://www.apta.org/uploadedFiles/APTAorg/About_Us/Policies/Ethics/StandardsEthicalConductPTA.pdf) Personally, I take this as a green light for PTA's to immerse themselves in whatever their niche or passion may be. Thus, if a PTA is following this standard, and the advances in PT call for more trained therapists with an understanding of the pelvic floor, and the appropriate oversight provided-- as in my case; what is the hold-up?
Counter to the above expectations, the Section on Women's Health's Position Statement on Internal Pelvic Floor Assessment and Treatment states:
"Any internal pelvic (vaginal or rectal) myofascial release or soft tissue mobilization techniques that would require a continuous ongoing re-evaluation and reassessment should be performed by the physical therapist and not delegated to supportive personnel including physical therapist assistants. The SOWH recognizes that therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular reeducation and behavioral retraining techniques for pelvic floor dysfunction at times requires ongoing critical decision making while at other times are relatively routine. In the routine circumstances, those techniques may be delegated. When the higher level of critical decision making is necessary those techniques should be performed by the physical therapist and not delegated to support personnel including the physical therapist assistant."
In this above set-up, PTA's are made to sound as if incapable of using any critical thinking skills. Or, at the least, able to operate with very limited critical reasoning. Furthermore, in the typical treatment of pelvic floor conditions, how is the decision-making process required for individualized treatment any different than that to the external pelvis, or the low back, or the foot for that matter?! The skill and awareness that was required in transferring a patient in the ICU when I was a new grad was in some ways more complex with more of a direct impact on a person's survival and well-being, than what I do now. Yet, how am I not qualified to do something in which I have extensive training? This seems inconsistent.
In my opinion, the PTA is more than just "supportive personnel". On the other hand, I also believe that new PTA grads may not have a place in pelvic floor PT. There are complexities within, and knowledge required of anatomy and physiology of the pelvis, which the PTA does not get from his or her program. Though doctorate students entering the PT world today also do not have much exposure to the pelvic floor, they at least have gone through a more thorough coverage of anatomy, physiology, and disease processes. Despite the differences in schooling, MANY physical therapists see their assistants as vital assets to their clinics.
One incredibly positive aspect of being a PTA is the follow-through I have with my clients. I LOVE getting to know my patients, and feel that I am allowed this luxury more frequently than PT's whose schedules may need to stay open for new evaluations. I frequently have clients say to me, "I would never have dreamed that I'd be talking about (fill in the blank) with ANYBODY!" Usually, this is after a few sessions of working together. I cherish seeing the freedom and healing that comes when people feel comfortable enough to open up their physical, emotional, and spiritual selves.
Yes, as a PTA we are limited by the scope of practice placed before us. However, I do not see that as a set of limitations that binds us to a very narrow existence. With the training one receives through continuing education such as with Herman & Wallace, the PTA can gain the necessary skills for treatment. And from this, the possibilities are endless!
Today's post is written by faculty member Martina Hauptmann, who instructs the Pilates for Pelvic Dysfunction, Osteoporosis, and Peripartum course. Come learn how to apply Pilates in your practice this September 19-20 in Chicago, IL!
Treating the incompetent pelvic floor (urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse) is a staple of therapists who have specialized in this complex area.
Ever since Dr. Arnold Kegel published his research “A Non-surgical Method of Increasing the Tone of the Sphincters and Their Supporting Structures” back in 1942 women have been strengthening their pelvic floor by conscious contraction of their perineum by either squeezing or lifting.
Another method to strengthen the pelvic floor is through the muscles that are extrinsic synergists to the pelvic floor musculature. The hip abductors, adductors, extensors and lateral rotators are extrinsically linked to the pelvic floor musculature. Except for one of the hip lateral rotators, the obturator internus, which by its anatomical attachments is actually an intrinsic synergist of the pelvic floor.
Pilates is an exercise method that seeks to increase a client’s strength, posture, control, and body awareness through precise exercises. The Heel Squeeze exercise is an excellent exercise to indirectly strengthen the pelvic floor via isometric contraction of the hip lateral rotators and hip extensors.
To perform the Heel Squeeze exercise, have the client lie prone with their legs hip distance apart, knees bent. The heels are touching and the toes pointing away from center. Draw the client’s awareness to their abdominals and have them slightly lift their stomach away from the mat. Instruct the client that she should continue with this contraction of her abdominals. Then as she exhales, the client squeezes her heels together and presses her pubic bone down into the mat. The client should hold this contraction for 5 seconds and do 8-12 repetitions.
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.
"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 .
The authors note there are sometimes reasons why mesh goes wrong: it is used for the wrong indication, there could be faulty surgical technique, and the material properties of mesh are inherently problematic for some women. Risk factors in patient selection are previous pelvic surgery, obesity and estrogen status. There are several types of complications described: trauma of insertion, inflammation from a foreign body reaction, infection, rejection, and compromised stability of the prosthesis over time. With mid urethral slings there were also several other complications listed such as over active bladder (52%), urinary obstruction (45%), SUI (26%) mesh exposure (18%) chronic pelvic pain (18%). For transvaginal mesh, reported rate of erosion was 21%, dysparunia 11%, mesh shrinkage, abscess and fistula totaled less than 10%. Transvaginal obturator tape was noted to be traumatic for the pelvic floor. Infections that might occur in the obturator fossa require careful and through treatment. Of women who have complications 60% will end up requiring surgical removal. It is imperative to find a surgeon who is experienced and skilled with this procedure as complete excision can be difficult and there are risks of bleeding, fistula, neuropathy and recurrence of prolapse and SUI. After recovery, 10-50% of women who have had excision will have another surgery to correct POP or SUI.
As pelvic health physical therapists we are strategically poised to both help women manage SUI and POP conservatively. We also have the skills needed to help rehabilitate women dealing with complications from mesh, either to avoid removal or after removal. Our job goes beyond the physical too, often helping women cope with the emotional toll that can parallel her medical journey. At PF2B we will discuss conservative prolape management and give you tools to help patients cope with chronic pain. Would love to see you there.