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What to expect in a Washington DC physical therapy pelvic floor evaluation

Pelvic floor physical therapy is a relatively newer subspeciality of rehabilitation. When I tell people that I specialize in pelvic floor rehabilitation here in Washington, DC, there are often follow-up questions! I have found that there is quite a bit of confusion for the general population, so I wanted to walk you through a pelvic floor appointment at Rose Physical Therapy Group. 

Because the pelvic floor is such a personal and vulnerable aspect of a person, I want to give some insight into what to expect when you are planning to attend an evaluation with a pelvic health physical therapist. Every clinician performs their evaluation and treatment differently; however, there are a few general concepts or procedures that are commonly performed by most pelvic health practitioners.

When a client comes in for an evaluation, I always take an extensive history of the client’s problem(s). This includes asking questions about bowel and bladder function, sexual health, parity, diet, sleep health, and pains in other parts of the body, including the low back, hips, and sacroiliac joint. After this, I select the appropriate tests and measures to complete. This typically includes looking at how well the client moves and how strong they are in certain muscle groups. I then discuss my findings and goals with the client, and how we can best achieve them together. The client typically leaves with a couple of home exercises and a follow-up appointment so that I can reassess for progress.

If I determine through clinical reasoning that an internal pelvic assessment would be beneficial or therapeutic for a client, I will discuss this with her prior to the appointment when I plan to perform an assessment. An internal assessment allows the practitioner to gather more relevant information about the tone and strength of the pelvic floor. An internal exam is similar to a pelvic exam when going to the OBGYN, but has a different goal.

In a physical therapy internal exam I am assessing the level of tenderness at each layer of the pelvic floor, as well as the strength of a pelvic floor contraction. The client at anytime can request to terminate the internal exam or refuse participation in this therapeutic treatment option. My client is always in control of the situation, and I am here to help him/her achieve their goals in a manner that he/she is comfortable with.

If you struggle with urinary or fecal incontinence, urinary frequency, pain with intercourse, prolapse, or you have had a child, you are an appropriate candidate for pelvic health physical therapy. With the information provided above, I hope to ease your concerns or anxieties about attending an evaluation with a pelvic health physical therapist at Rose Physical Therapy. You can make an appointment at either our downtown office located between Dupont Circle and Farragut Square, or in our Navy Yard office just a few blocks from Capitol Hill and adjacent the Navy Yard metro.