Endometriosis occurs when a tissue similar to that of the uterine lining—the endometrium— forms outside of the uterus. The endometrium-like tissue can form most commonly on other female reproductive structures such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes, as well as on the bladder, rectum, and the tissue lining the pelvis. It may sound unusual but endometriosis can occur in up to 15% of women of all age groups who are able to reproduce. Endometrial tissue needs to be shed monthly and normally sheds during a woman’s menstrual period when found in the uterus. Endometrial tissue on other organs, however, can keep building up without being shed, which leads to more intense pain and cramping. Endometriosis can also lead to the formation of trigger points, tissue irritation, and adhesions, which are a type of scar tissue that may cause organs to stick together.
Endometriosis most frequently characterized by heavier periods with intense cramping, pelvic pain, and low back pain. Pain may develop earlier and last longer than usual around your menstrual period and painful symptoms can worsen over time. Besides intense pain and menstrual periods, endometriosis can also cause bladder spasms, chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and urinary frequency and urgency. Those with endometriosis often clench the muscles in the pelvic floor and abdomen due to discomfort and muscle guarding. Constant clenching, in turn, leaves the pelvic floor muscles in a constant holding pattern, limiting mobility in the pelvic floor and possibly causing pain with intercourse. With such a long list of symptoms affecting both your day-to-day life and long-term health, it is important to get your life back on track if you are suffering from endometriosis.
Physical therapy can address pelvic floor dysfunction and pain related to endometriosis. At Rebalance Physical Therapy, our physical therapists will assess you holistically— assessing the entire body—but with a focus on the low back, hips, and pelvis to determine how endometriosis is affecting your posture and mobility. They will then implement a variety of techniques to alleviate painful symptoms associated with endometriosis. The therapists may utilize myofascial trigger point release, in which the therapist applies pressure to the trigger points and stretches the muscles with a combination of passive and active muscle energy techniques. They may also use visceral mobilization, a technique that involves work on the internal organs and the corresponding connective tissue to increase organ mobility and decrease adhesions. Our physical therapists will teach you stretches and exercises to relieve pain on your own between sessions. Cardio exercises are particularly effective in alleviating painful symptoms, while relaxation techniques and deep breathing are simple ways to keep you from clenching the pelvic floor muscles.
Treatment for endometriosis can be painful, but it is essential, effective, and well worth it! The easiest and most direct way to find relief for your endometriosis pain is to visit us in-person if you live in or around Philadelphia, PA! If you’re not near Philadelphia, we also offer Telehealth consultations. These Telehealth consults are a way for our therapists to personalize your treatment and give you recommendations and referrals to manage and treat your endometriosis symptoms.
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