Pelvic Floor could be the issue. Does your low back pain linger, even after trying every trick in the toolbox? You’ve gone to massage therapy, acupuncture, and even the chiropractor – but nothing seems to work. While these professionals are good at addressing the spine and the hip muscles, they may be overlooking an important culprit of low back pain – the pelvic floor.
When people think of pelvic floor dysfunction, they often think of difficulty with bladder control or leakage of urine upon exertion. While this is certainly an issue for many women (in fact urinary incontinence affects over 50% of postmenopausal women and 30% of women postpartum), the pelvic floor does more for your body than simply control your bladder.
Your Pelvic Floor muscles form your Core.
The pelvic floor muscles form the base of what is commonly referred to as the ‘core’. These muscles line the pelvis and attach to the tailbone. They work with the deep abdominal and back muscles, as well as your breathing muscle (the diaphragm), to support the spine and control the pressure inside your abdomen. The pressure created by the abdominals and diaphragm exits through the pelvic floor. Without a strong floor, the integrity of the lumbar spine and sacroiliac joint may be comprised, leading to back injury or dysfunction. The opposite may also be true. When the back is in pain, the pelvic floor muscles may tighten as a protective mechanism, leading to trigger points and stiffness in the region. Recent research shows that this is more prevalent than we realized.
Of women with low back pain, more than 95% had pelvic floor dysfunction as well. This included pelvic tenderness (71%), weakness (66%) and even pelvic organ prolapse (41%).
Try physical therapy!
So what can you do about this? Try pelvic floor physical therapy!
A pelvic floor physical therapist understands the close relationship between the pelvic floor and low back pain. An initial evaluation and thorough history will rule out other potential causes of your back pain. At Park Sports PT our pelvic floor specialist, Lacey Salberg, PT, DPT, is very familiar with these cases. For example, Lacey was recently treating a patient who came in with classic low back pain and sciatica symptoms. The patient first saw Lacey after weeks of unsuccessful treatment from other healthcare professionals, who all attributed her pain to a tight piriformis muscle. Because Lacey took a pelvic floor approach, she discovered that the sciatic pain was actually due to tightness of an important pelvic floor muscle – the obturator internus. After a few weeks of treatment with Lacey, involving muscle energy techniques and soft tissue release, the back pain and sciatica symptoms resolved completely.
In conclusion, for targeted long term relief of lower back pain, both the pelvic floor and lower back must be looked at together. For questions or to make an appointment with our pelvic floor physical therapist, click here.
Written By: Lacey Salberg
Park Sports PT is a Participating Member of the Hospital for Special Surgery Rehabilitation Network.
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