Common Misconceptions About Pelvic Physical Therapy

1. The only people needing to see a Pelvic PT are women after childbirth.

The interesting thing about this one, is that of the patients I treat, only about 5-10% are post-partum women! The other 90% includes young with Pelvic Physical Therapy(with our youngest being 8 years old) to old (with our oldest being 95) men and women experiencing a big variety of symptoms: urinary incontinence, difficulties in urination, bowel incontinence, constipation, abdominal pain, low back/SI pain, pelvic pain or coccyx pain, rectal pain, penile or testicular pain, as well as men and women prior to or after having pelvic surgery.

2. Pelvic PTs do not treat men.

False. We treat many men. Now, I will admit that at our specific clinic, we see more women than men, but this is not true of every pelvic physical therapy clinic. Currently, I would estimate 20-30% of my schedule is men. The most common diagnoses we treat for men are post-prostatectomy related incontinence as well as variations of male pelvic pain—however, we also treat men with bowel dysfunction, urinary dysfunction and tailbone pain.

3. If a person is leaking urine, they definitely need kegel exercises (pelvic floor strengthening).

We have discussed this in the past in other blog posts, but this really is a very common misconception I often have to fight with my patients. Urinary incontinence is a failed system, not just a failed muscle. From a musculoskeletal standpoint, a person needs a well-functioning pelvic floor muscle group, abdominal muscles, hip muscles, diaphragm and low back muscles.

4. If a person has tried “kegel exercises” and they did not work, Pelvic PT won’t be able to help them.

As a Pelvic PT, I take great offense to that… I mean, honestly, do you think I would need a doctoral degree, 100+ hours of additional continuing education, and a board specialization to teach a person Kegel exercises? That all to say, rehabilitation for the pelvis is much more involved than simply strengthening a muscle group.

5. People can major in “physical therapy” and become a pelvic PT right after they graduate.

I wish that were true—it would have saved me several years of work! Actually, the profession of physical therapy has changed significantly in the past 20 years. Currently, most practicing physical therapists have a Masters or Doctoral degree in physical therapy, and the majority of the current educational programs in physical therapy in the United States are doctoral programs.