What Is Pelvic Health Physical Therapy?
Pelvic health physical therapy refers to the treatment of conditions related to the musculature of the inside of the pelvis which affects bowel, bladder, breathing, and postural function. Treatment is conducted through Manual, Neuromuscular, Therapeutic exercises and behavioral interventions by a highly trained Physical Therapist.
Approximately one-third of U.S. women will have a pelvic health problem by age 60. Have you had a pelvic floor problem that you avoided discussing with your provider?
Men may have chronic pelvic pain from a number of disorders, including urinary dysfunction or irritable bowel syndrome.
Kids as early as 24-36 months, and up through adolescence and adulthood, can be affected by pelvic floor conditions and disorders.
Pregnancy and birth are stressful on the body. During pregnancy the weight of a growing baby places pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. These changes alone can lead to a pelvic floor that is more vulnerable to dysfunction.
As a 59 year old post-menopausal woman I was having chronic vaginal infections for the past several years due to tightness and changes in my vaginal tissues which no amount of medical treatment could resolve. I received immediate relief upon my first pelvic floor treatment by Dhara and the infection has not returned in the 5 months I've been going to her. I was able to gradually decrease my appointments and now things are holding very well and I've been released from regular treatments and will return only as needed. She also gave me some great yoga stretches for the outer muscles of my pelvis which will empower me to keep that whole area fluid and open.On a psychological, emotional level this is also very profound work and greatly contributed to the final stages of healing of my childhood sexual abuse. I feel much more stable and grounded in my own energy center and connected to Mother Earth. On a subtle level I have claimed my inner authority and no longer look outside myself for affirmation which has been a huge shift!
I came to Dhara as soon as I could following the birth of my first child. With my own work as a women’s health specialist acupuncturist, I knew I would want and need help healing my whole body after delivery. We had a healthy, uneventful pregnancy. The delivery was a bit of an experience. I vaginally delivered a 10lb 2oz baby with shoulder dystocia. This definitely put a toll on my pelvic floor, and body in general. I experienced changes in bathroom habits, sensations of weakness in my back and pelvis, sensitivity and tightening around my scar (from tearing), and the general connection of myself “down there.” Let’s face it. Things changed. Working with Dhara was a blessing on many levels. It was a saving grace to have a provider that truly heard me and saw me where I was as a woman and new mom. I was able to be vulnerable about postpartum as well as express concerns and goals with my body’s healing. She listened and we worked together at my pace and comfort level each session. Dhara helped me relearn my body and understand just how long the process may take. The does and don’ts. To hear and be reminded about what is common and that I wasn’t alone was huge. All too often we hear about things that are “normal” in postpartum, but I am hear to tell you what is common is not always “normal” or positive. Leakage, bowel changes, pain, weakness… It doesn’t have to be that way. I tell my patients it is a nonnegotiable following pregnancy (and as we continue to age) - pelvic health. My biggest piece of advice would be to at the very least have a pelvic PT on the to do list for that postpartum period. Get to it as soon as you feel able or perhaps when you feel you need a little more care/support for yourself. You won’t regret it. Don’t rush back to your previous “normal.” Be patient and lend yourself some grace. You and your body will have changed. A pelvic PT will help you reach your healing, health and fitness goals at your pace and safely.
After the birth of my oldest child I had a lot of body pain (everything from my back to hips to knees to arms) -- which was very different than I felt pre-baby. I've always been an active person and found that it was becoming very painful to exercise like I had in the past, and which was important for my mental health and happiness. A friend recommended Dhara, and from my first visit with her I started to feel better. She is extremely knowledgeable and welcoming and has helped me with tight muscles, posture corrections, diastasis recti, my c-section scar, you name it. I saw her throughout my pregnancy with my second child (and also took her advice to pursue yoga and barre during this pregnancy instead of only running) and have had a MUCH easier recovery (although I still regularly visit Dhara!).
When I first started seeing Dhara (pre-pregnancy) I had been experiencing months of unexplained pelvic floor discomfort and pain. After seeing many doctors (including my OB who told me he "didn't know what else to try/tell me") I was referred to Dhara and finally found someone who I felt really listened to me and believed me! I left my first appointment feeling heard, validated, and hopeful as she already had a list of things to try and several follow up appointments scheduled.
A few years later I became pregnant with my first son and Dhara supported me immensely both before and after the pregnancy. I had a hernia during my first pregnancy and she helped show me techniques to lessen the pain so that I could hold on surgery until after the baby was born. And when the baby arrived she taught me exercises to help with some mild diastasis and other pains that came about due to breastfeeding and carrying a baby. And in addition to all of that, she would take time to just talk with me, to ask "how are you doing?" and to listen. For a new mother to talk with someone like Dhara who is also a mother and who has just been through it and can relate is priceless. Sometimes I would come home and say that I felt like I'd gone to therapy in addition to PT!
I was so excited and lucky to be able to continue to have Dhara on my "team" as I went into my second pregnancy. For this pregnancy we met a few times prior to the baby coming to review pregnancy-safe exercises and help with the aches and pains of being pregnant. And of course, all of the advice I would get during each visit was invaluable! Dhara was also quick to call me at home when I went into panic mode thinking I had a blood clot and could not get ahold of my OB. Having someone call me and talk to me when I was in such an anxious state was invaluable and I am so thankful Dhara took the time to talk with me.
After my second baby was born, the stitches from my delivery were healing in a way that concerned my OB. She wanted to do surgery to open them back up and re-stitch the area. That sounded like the last thing I wanted to do with a 6 week old at home so I asked if I could talk to Dhara first before making a decision. I'm so glad I waited because Dhara took one look and said "oh yeah, we can fix this!". After a few appointments with Dhara, my OB saw a vast improvement and said "now this is why I love Dhara!" No surgery needed :)
Now that I have been working with Dhara for so long, I can't believe more people do not know about her. In my mind I feel like postpartum care like Dhara provides should be mandatory for new moms. Being pregnant and delivering a baby causes so many changes in your body - many of which are not talked about so it can be shocking and confusing when it happens. Dhara provides a place of learning and healing and I could not imagine going through either of my pregnancy journeys without her.
Following a procedure to correct an over active bladder, I still had issues with leakage and also anxiety about being close to a bathroom almost all of the time. Following 6 weeks of once a week sessions with Dhara and at home exercises, the leakage problems have resolved, my bladder is much calmer and so am I! I am very pleased with my experience at Pelvic Health Center of Santa Barbara. Dhara explained pelvic floor therapy in a way I could understand, and was very professional throughout the treatment. It was also very helpful to have the at home program, and Dhara took the time to answer all of my questions about the office visit procedures and the therapy at home. I am happy to encourage anyone experiencing an overactive bladder to seek help from the Pelvic Health Center of Santa Barbara.
The Pelvic Health Center of Santa Barbara has saved my life. After experiencing post vasectomy complications, I was referred to pelvic floor therapy from an out of town specialist. He did not know anyone in Santa Barbara. Fortunately, I found Dhara and Pelvic Health Center. Dhara is a natural healer. Over the last 5 months, she has miraculously taken a dire situation with little remedy available and is curing me. She intuitively knows the pelvic area and all the related nerves lines. For example, she will work on one area like the back or stomach to cure a pain in the pelvis. It's truly incredible healing. Further, the entire team at the Pelvic Health Center is amazing. I have had sessions with Victoria and she too is a fantastic healer. You can't go wrong with either therapist. Plus Natalie at the front desk has a bright and welcoming smile and takes care of the scheduling. If you find yourself in the unfortunate shoes of pelvic pain or trauma, see these wonderful healers.
I began working with Dhara about 9 months after the birth of my second child. I thought I had a fairly straightforward physical recovery after my first child. When my first child was 2, I was diagnosed with a mild and fairly asymptomatic bladder prolapse. I saw a pelvic floor physical therapist in town (not Dhara) and did some work with an online rehab program, and felt pretty good about things. I went into the birth of my second child feeling armed with a greater awareness of the recovery process and need for rehab exercises. I think these did help, but when I tried to return to running about 4 months postpartum, I encountered a nagging, dull pubic bone pain. I took a break from running again, did more strength work, then went slowly and tried to build up, but this time I began feeling weird nerve pain in my left groin. This nerve pain continued for over 2 months and came and went throughout daily activities. Running made it a lot worse. A trainer tried to address underlying strength imbalances, but it didn't help.
I saw Dhara because I had heard great things about what she can do, although I was skeptical because I didn't think my pelvic floor was the issue. RIght away I was so impressed with her thoroughness and comprehensive approach to the problem. She also helped me realize that my pelvic floor strength and coordination had a lot of room for growth. She was very optimistic about helping me return to running, and I left each appointment feeling like I had a clear plan for how to move forward that week. It took a month or two before I was able to start running again, but she helped me get there and then continue to get stronger than I'd been before. I love trail running, and since the birth of my first child, I had just accepted that fast downhill running would lead to leakage. Working with Dhara helped me set higher goals for myself in that regard, and she gave me the tools to reach those goals. I have gotten to a place where I can do the fast downhills I love with only very occasional leakage issues, maybe once a month or less (which I am still working on!). My pelvic floor is much stronger than it was even after I had fully recovered from my first childbirth experience, and really stronger than even before I had children. I am now running long distances on roads and trails, basically pain-free (although I can tell when I've been slacking off on my exercises, and I'm better aware of when my body feels worn down and what to do to fix it.)
Working with Dhara was dramatically different than the work I did with the other pelvic floor therapist I had seen. While the other therapist was kind and attentive, it felt like she had her set program, and I was just expected to work through it and go on my way. With Dhara, I felt like she was constantly learning with me, tailoring her suggestions to meet my personal goals and to actively work with my body's particular issues. I often felt like we were brainstorming together, me sharing what I know about my body, and her sharing her wealth of knowledge from many modalities and continual professional development. Additionally, her manual, hands-on work was a key part of my recovery, something my previous physical therapist had not offered.
I am so grateful for the insights into my body that she has given me and for her high standards for what level of recovery women's bodies can achieve. I wish every woman had this level of postpartum support!