Pelvic floor physical therapy treatment and dysfunction


What is the pelvic floor and what does it do for me?

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles which form a sling at the bottom of your pelvis to provide support to your pelvic and abdominal organs.  The pelvic floor muscles are essential in bladder, bowel and sexual function. Along with your hip, low back and abdominal muscles, the  pelvic floor muscles provide core stability. 

What causes pelvic floor dysfunction?

Over time, due to stress, scar tissue, surgeries, poor bathroom habits, child birth, trauma, improper performance of pelvic floor exercises, and/or the natural course of aging, our muscles may become weak or over-stressed and can spasm. This can result in decreased quality of life due to pain, weakness, or incontinence.

Muscle imbalances in the hips, back and abdomen and fascial (connective tissue) restrictions related to poor posture may also contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction. 

What diagnoses are associated with pelvic floor dysfunction?


  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Levator ani syndrome
  • Pelvic floor muscle spasm or myalgia
  • Dyspareunea (pain with intercourse)
  • Vaginismus
  • Coccydynia (tailbone pain)
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Endometriosis
  • Urinary incontinence (stress, urge, or mixed)
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Constipation
  • Fecal incontinence

What are common signs of pelvic floor dysfunction?

  • A “falling out” feeling.
  • Pain or burning in the abdomen, tailbone or perineal area.
  • Constipation or straining to urinate
  • Unresolved low back or hip pain.
  • Frequency and urgency when going to the bathroom.
  • Leaking of urine or feces.
  • Pain with intercourse.

How does physical therapy address pelvic floor dysfunction?

  • Patient education regarding the involved anatomy, proper body mechanics, posture, and strategies for self-care.
  • Manual therapy to correct pelvic alignment and relieve pain due to tissue restrictions and muscle spasm.
  • Muscle re-education to improve pelvic floor strength and/or relaxation.
  • Therapeutic exercise, including stretching and strengthening, to correct muscle imbalances in the trunk, pelvis and legs.
  • Instruction in personalized home exercise program.