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Today's post on the Pelvic Rehab Report comes from faculty member Allison Ariail, PT, DPT, CLT-LANA, BCB-PMD, PRPC. Allison instructs the ultrasound imaging courses, the next of which will be Rehabilitative Ultra Sound Imaging: Women's Health and Orthopedic Topics in Baltimore, MD on Jun 12, 2015 - Jun 14, 2015.

 

In the past several decades there has been quite a bit of research regarding stabilization of the low back and pelvic ring. We as therapists have changed our focus from working more of the global stabilization muscles to the local stabilizing muscles; the transverse abdominis, the lumbar multifidus, and the pelvic floor. Both research studies and clinical experience has shown us what a positive difference working on these muscles can makes for back pain and pelvic ring pain, as well as for the risk of injury in the back and pelvic ring. However, what does it do for risk of injury for the lower limb? In 2014, Hides and Stanton published a study looking at the effects of motor control training on lower extremity injury in Australian professional football players. A pre- and post-intervention trial was used during the playing season of the Australian football league as a panel design. Assessment included magnetic resonance imaging and measurements of the cross-sectional area of the multifidus, psoas, and quadratus lumborum, as well as the change in trunk cross-sectional area due to voluntary contraction of the transverse abdominis muscle. A motor control program included training of the multifidus, transversus abdominis, and the pelvic floor muscles using ultrasound imaging for feedback that then progressed into a functional rehabilitation program was used with some of the players. Injury data was collected throughout the study. Results showed that a smaller multifidus or quadratus lumborum was predictive of lower limb injury during the playing season. Additionally, the risk of sustaining a severe injury was lower for players who received the motor control intervention.

 

This is interesting and intriguing information. Yes, there are many factors that are involved in sustaining an injury during a sport. However, it would be a good idea to do a quick screen of the local stabilizing muscles before a playing season, whether it is a professional player or an adolescent player. Do adolescents really have issues with weakness in their local stabilizing muscles? Yes! Clinically I have seen adolescent players who display back pain and other issues related to weakness in their core muscles. Usually this occurs after they have gone through a growth spurt, but some of these adolescent athletes did not recover, even several years after the large growth spurt.

If you area clinic owner, are in a management or leadership position, one of your jobs is making sure your therapists are using best practices. This can be a challenge when best practices are continually being researched and discussed, and when systematic reviews continue to tell us that pelvic rehabilitation research lacks homogeneity and enough high-level evidence to make convincing arguments about interventions. In the absence of this, we can still integrate recommendations from clinical practice guidelines and from best practice statements. The American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) Section on Women's Health (SOWH) is participating in the APTA's initiative to develop clinical practice guidelines. For current guidelines, check out their page here. To see which guidelines are in development at the APTA, click here.

 

The American Urological Association (AUA) has also developed practice guidelines, including the Guideline on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome (IC/PBS). Within this guideline, the first line treatments are listed as general relaxation/stress management, pain management, patient education, and self-care/behavioral modification. Second-line treatments include "appropriate manual physical therapy techniques", oral medications, bladder medications (administered inside the bladder), and pain management. What is very interesting about this guideline is that the authors define what types of manual therapy approaches are appropriate, and these include techniques that resolve muscle tenderness, lengthen shortened muscles, release painful scars or other connective tissue restrictions. The guidelines also define who should be working with patients who have IC/PBS and pelvic muscle tenderness: "appropriately trained clinicians". Very importantly, the authors state that pelvic floor strengthening exercises should be avoided.

 

How can these guidelines be used to assess best practices? Find out if your therapists who work with patients who have IC/PBS are indeed instructing in relaxation strategies, using pain education and pain management techniques (for pain-brain education specific to pelvic pain, check out the book "Why Pelvic Pain Hurts". Find out if your therapist is instructing in pelvic muscle strengthening as a first-line of treatment, since this would not be in line with the AUA guidelines. (Having said this, teaching pelvic muscle strengthening can be very appropriate when done with consideration of pelvic muscle pain.) Lastly, ask your therapist if she feels that her skill set and training is sufficient to treat the condition. Even in our comprehensive pelvic floor series, there is so much to learn at the initial course that IC/PBS is not discussed in great detail until PF2B. Maybe a little more knowledge and training would help your therapist feel that she is providing the "appropriate manual physical therapy techniques" recommended in the guidelines.

 

Many diagnoses that live under the umbrella of "chronic pelvic pain" have similar symptoms, confounding the differential diagnosis and development of a treatment pathway. Dr. Charles Butrick, in an article published in 2007, suggested that gynecologists "…be alert to…interstitial cystitis in patients who present with chronic pelvic pain typical of endometriosis." The concurrent conditions of bladder pain syndrome (BPS) and endometriosis have been described as "evil twins syndrome" in the realm of chronic pelvic pain. Bladder pain syndrome. also known as Interstitial Cystitis (IC), is a condition commonly associated with pelvic pain, bladder pressure, and urinary dysfunction such as urgency and frequency. Endometriosis can also cause or contribute to pelvic pain, and a variety of pelvic dysfunctions including bowel, bladder, or sexual dysfunction.

 

A study published in the International Journal of Surgery reported on the prevalence of these two conditions. Utilizing a systematic review approach, the authors located articles reporting on the prevalence of bladder pain syndrome and endometriosis in women with chronic pelvic pain. Nine observational studies were included, and the range of endometriosis diagnosis ranged from 11%-97%, with a mean prevalence of 61%. The prevalence of endometriosis ranged from 28%-93% with a mean prevalence of 70%. The large variation in these rates were explained as potentially being due to the variations in study quality and sample selection. (The authors point out that the highest rates of prevalence for BPS and endometriosis were noted in the patient groups recruited from specialist clinics and from lists of patients from operating lists.) The study concludes that in women who present with chronic pelvic pain (CPP), screening for bladder pain syndrome is important so that appropriate treatment can be directed to all issues.

 

If another chronic pelvic pain condition, pudendal neuralgia, is added to the diagnoses of endometriosis and painful bladder syndrome, "evil triplet syndrome" can be experienced by a patient. The various symptoms of each of these conditions can add to the total level of pain and dysfunction experienced by a woman with chronic pelvic pain. Having the tools to evaluate and treat symptomatology and address the chronic aspect of tissue, joint, neural, myofascial, and the processing of pain is a skill that most pelvic rehabilitation therapists continue to work on throughout their careers. Michelle Lyons, faculty member from Ireland, brings her "Special Topics in Women's Health" course to Chicago in a couple of weeks. Within the course, Michelle will be discussing each of these conditions from the standpoint of a multidisciplinary approach, and with the role of the pelvic rehabilitation provider in mind. She will also be sharing up-to-date and practical information about infertility and hysterectomy. If you are interested in joining Michelle and colleagues in Chicago, you still have time to sign up! And if you would like to host Michelle's course in your facility, give us a call or send us a note!

Even after teaching for a couple of decades, both in graduate level courses and in continuing education settings (live and online), I am humbled by all there is to learn and relearn about how to teach well. We all teach every day, regardless of what setting or roles we work in, and are required to share our thoughts and knowledge with respect, equanimity, and non-judgement. After teaching a course last month, I received feedback about an important topic that was not clearly addressed from an instructional or clinical standpoint, and the participant who brought it to my attention agreed to share her experience so that we as pelvic rehab providers can do a better job of addressing the issue when needed. The following post was written by Erin B. after I encouraged her to share her own thoughts about the issue.

 

"Having recently participated in the PF1 class after several years out of the classroom-style of continuing education, I made a few observations I felt compelled to share. (I do want to preface this with the fact that I am fully aware that my own insecurities play a role in my experiences and I recognize that they may alter my judgment of the situation.)

 

I am 5' 4" and currently 240 pounds. Although that is 50 pounds lighter than I was 6 months prior to attending this class, it is still significantly larger than 90% of the class participants, lab assistants and instructors. I am not someone who feels that fat is healthy. I do not feel that you need to act like I am in as good of shape as anyone else in the room. However, I do feel that there are certain assumptions made about me that are based on my physical appearance alone. Take a minute and think about your first reaction to seeing a person who is obviously overweight. (I do realize that I have made my own assumptions about some of you as well!) Just because you are much thinner and more fit looking I assume you exercise regularly, you always eat healthy and you judge me negatively for my appearance. I do know that my assumptions about you may be just as wrong as what I believe you assumed about me. However, when I see that the larger people in class have placed themselves more to the back of the room, when I have a hard time finding a lab partner and when the lab instructor struggles with how to say to the partner that got stuck with me "things may be different on her", I begin to feel like I am taking something away from the class experience for everyone else. I do not want to hinder another clinician's learning process so I don't push anyone to be my partner, but then I am actually denying myself the learning opportunities I came for. Not to mention that I may be denying the other participants the opportunity to learn how to handle a client that may look and feel like me.

Today's post is written by faculty member Allison Ariail, PT, DPT, CLT-LANA, BCB-PMD, PRPC. You can join Allison in her Rehabilitative Ultrasound Imaging: Women's Health and Orthopedic Topics course, which takes place in Baltimore this year, June 12-14.

Since the mid 1990’s the POP-Q has been used to quantify, describe and stage pelvic organ prolapse. A series of 6 points are measured in the vagina in relation to the hymen. In a recent years, translabial ultrasound imaging has been used to look at the pelvic organs and the pelvic floor. A skilled practitioner can view pelvic floor muscle contractions, as well as Valsalva maneuvers and the effects each of these have on the pelvic organs. For example funneling of the urethral meatus, rotation of the urethra, opening of the retrovesical angle, and dropping of the bladder neck and uterus can be viewed using ultrasound imaging of the anterior compartment during Valsalva maneuvers. Pelvic organ descent seen on ultrasound imaging has been associated with symptoms of prolapse.

Until now the relationship between ultrasound and clinical findings has not been examined. A recent study by Dietz set out to see if there is an association between clinical prolapse findings and pelvic descent seen on ultrasound. Data was obtained on 825 women seeking treatment at a urogynecological center for symptoms of lower urinary tract or pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Five coordinates of the POP-Q scale were measured and compared to ultrasound measures of descent. All data was blinded against other data obtained. Clinically, 78% of the women were found to have a POP-Q stage of 2 or greater. It was found that all coordinates were strongly associated with ultrasound measures of descent. The association was almost linear, particularly for the anterior compartment. This means that ultrasound measures can be used to quantify prolapse and be comparable to the POP-Q. Proposed cutoffs have been made for the bladder, uterus, and rectum in relation to the pubic symphysis.

Today the Pelvic Rehab Report presents a conversation with Dr. Kimberlee Sullivan, DPT. Kimberlee was kind enough to share her thoughts on the importance of pelvic rehab and her experiences in the field.

Tell us about your clinical practice.

Sullivan Physical Therapy is an outpatient private practice physical therapy clinic in Austin, Texas that specializes in women's and men's health. We have seven physical therapists who evaluate and treat pelvic floor dysfunction, pre and postpartum, pediatric bladder and bowel dysfunction, and lymphedema. Our practice takes a full body approach that looks at a person from different aspects to analyze how various factors in their life may be contributing to their symptoms. We also strive to be an integrated health care practice that communicates well with both the patient and their referring physician or multiple practitioners. The physical therapists work closely with the patient's entire medical team in order to provide the best care.

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.

Today we are happy to share an interview with Blair Green, PT! Blair brings her experience as both a practitioner and a clinic owner to the field of pelvic rehabilitation, and you can check out her insights below.

Tell us about your clinical practice

I am an owner of One on One Physical Therapy, in Atlanta, GA. My patient population is primarily patients with pelvic pain of varying degrees. I blend my skills and knowledge of pelvic health with orthopedic manual therapy and I am able to provide a comprehensive approach to treating these patients. I also work closely with postpartum women for rehabilitation following childbirth, primarily in an orthopedic sense. I like to work with women who experience diastasis recti following pregnancy and who want to return to an active lifestyle after having children. One other area that interests me is the relationship between autoimmune disorders / endocrine function / pelvic pain. I hope to expand on this in the future.

This question is one that, a decade ago, may have made more sense to ask, as very few male therapists were engaged in the world of pelvic rehabilitation. Most pelvic rehabilitation practices still stem from programs developed in "Women's Health" so it's logical to see more female patients being treated, usually by female therapists. We are at an exciting time in the healing professions, and particularly in pelvic rehabilitation, when choice of provider may come to be based more on experience, personality and qualifications of the treating therapist than on the provider's or patient's gender. At the Institute's most recent entry-level Pelvic Floor 1 (PF1) courses, 2 male therapists were in attendance at 2 different PF1 courses on opposite sides of the nation. This shift (we tend to have an occasional male therapist within the pelvic floor series courses) has been noticed, and at the Institute, we have committed efforts at exploring if and how this shift affects our coursework. For example, are the instructors comfortable, are the female participants cool with it, and do the men feel welcomed? To find out a little more about the subject, I bring your attention to a few of the men who are currently representing the field of pelvic health.

 

Herman & Wallace Institute faculty member, Peter Philip, has treated both men and women in his practice for years. This treatment involves internal assessment and intervention when needed, and Peter approaches all of his patients with the same matter-of-fact, clearly defined consent. As a private practice owner, it makes sense that Peter is able to retain his patients regardless of the condition for which they are seeking care. Having to refer a patient to another therapist or clinic would negate the ability for a therapist to provide comprehensive care. On his website you will find a listing of women's health issues described next to sports, work, and other lifestyle injuries.

 

I posed the following question to Jake Bartholomy , physical therapist in Seattle, Washington: "Why is it so important for a male therapist to be involved in pelvic rehab, regardless if the goal is to focus on working with male or female or other gendered patients?" Jake's response reflects the value of offering choices to the patients he serves: "I believe it's important for people to have a choice in their therapist. Many people are shy and nervous to discuss their pelvic issues and if male or transgendered patients are more comfortable working with a male therapist, I'm proud to offer that service in the Seattle area."

 

Posted by on in Guest Blog Post

Today on the Pelvic Rehab Report, we hear from Dustienne Miller. Dustienne wrote and teaches the Yoga for Pelvic Pain course, which is available in Cleveland, OH on July 18-19, and in Boston, MA on September 12-13.

 

"It feels like my pelvic floor just sighed."

 

Grounding in Mountain Pose

 

As musculoskeletal professionals, we have a sharp eye for postural dysfunction. We explain to our patients that the ribcage is sheared posteriorly to the plumb line and how gravity magnifies forces at specific structures. Some physical therapists perform the Vertical Compression Test (VCT) to allow the patient to feel the difference between their typical habitual posture and a more optimally aligned posture. This works well to “sell” your patients on why their newly aligned posture allows for more efficient weight transfer through the base of support. In addition to the VCT, I utilize Tadasana, or Mountain Pose as an additional kinesthetic approach to postural retraining.

Upcoming Continuing Education Courses

Jul 10, 2015 - Jul 12, 2015
Location: Virginia Hospital Center

Jul 17, 2015 - Jul 19, 2015
Location: Central DuPage Hospital Conference Room

Jul 18, 2015 - Jul 19, 2015
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Location: UH Case Medical Center - University Hospitals

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Sep 11, 2015 - Sep 13, 2015
Location: Women's Hospital of Texas

Sep 11, 2015 - Sep 13, 2015
Location: University of Utah Orthopedic Center

Sep 12, 2015 - Sep 13, 2015
Location: Marathon Physical Therapy

Sep 12, 2015 - Sep 13, 2015
Location: East Jefferson General Hospital

Sep 19, 2015 - Sep 20, 2015
Location: Kima - Center for Physiotherapy & Wellness

Sep 19, 2015 - Sep 20, 2015
Location: Stay Fit Physical Therapy & Core Wellness, Inc.

Sep 25, 2015 - Sep 27, 2015
Location: Ohio Health

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Location: Evolution Physical Therapy

Oct 2, 2015 - Oct 4, 2015
Location: Duke University Medical Center

Oct 3, 2015 - Oct 4, 2015
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Oct 3, 2015 - Oct 4, 2015
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Oct 9, 2015 - Oct 11, 2015
Location: Anne Arundel Medical Center

Oct 16, 2015 - Oct 18, 2015
Location: Middlesex Hospital

Oct 16, 2015 - Oct 18, 2015
Location: Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine

Oct 17, 2015 - Oct 18, 2015
Location: Queen of the Valley Medical Center

Oct 23, 2015 - Oct 25, 2015
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Oct 24, 2015 - Oct 25, 2015
Location: Marathon Physical Therapy

Oct 25, 2015 - Oct 26, 2015
Location: Touro College: Bayshore

Nov 6, 2015 - Nov 8, 2015
Location: Results Physiotherapy