What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis, commonly referred to as “endo”, is a common condition that causes chronic pelvic and/or abdominal pain and painful periods. Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the uterus (endometrial tissue) is deposited anywhere in the abdominal cavity including on the bladder, ovaries, bowel and other internal organs. Normally this tissue is deposited in the uterus and is shed during one’s monthly menstrual cycle. In endometriosis, researchers believe the endometrial tissues build up in the abdominal tissue, gets engorged with blood and gets shed inside the body causing chemical build up, scars, cysts, adhesions and pain. Scars and adhesions can block the fallopian tubes and make conception and pregnancy less likely.
Killer periods... before, during and/or after
Endo is a complex condition and may present differently for each woman. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe but are usually cyclical like their menstrual cycle. Common symptoms that many women with endo experience include:
- Mild to severe cramping
- Low back pain
- Pain with sexual intercourse
- Constipation and/or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms
- Difficulties with urination
- Back and pelvic girdle pain
- Difficulty becoming pregnant
How can Physical Therapy help?
Unfortunately, endo has no known cure at this time. Treatment for endometriosis focuses on symptom management and is best treated using a multidisciplinary approach including medication, laparoscopic surgery, hormone treatment and physical therapy.
A pelvic floor physical therapist specializes in the treatment of women with various types of pelvic girdle disorders. They evaluate woman holistically including postural alignment, entire body movement assessment, muscle tone, strength, endurance and coordination. They perform both internal and external assessment of the pelvic floor muscle looking for areas on abnormal tone, adhesions and incoordination. Visceral and scar adhesions are assessed and treated. Many times endometriosis causes trigger points and/or tightness in the pelvic floor muscles which are actually the main reason for the pain associated with endo. Pelvic floor physical therapy may involve several techniques to help resolve the dysfunction in these muscles and relieve pain. These may include
- Neuromuscular re-education: breathing and pelvic floor coordination
- Manual therapy to normalizing tone of the pelvic floor muscles internally and externally
- Stretching and strengthening of the surrounding muscles
- Relaxation techniques
- EMG biofeedback
- Electrical stimulation
- Techniques to improve defecation
- Scar tissue mobilization
- Visceral mobilization
- Fascial Strain Counterstrain
- Myofascial trigger point release
- Posture correction