Pelvic floor dysfunction is on the rise with a commonly misunderstood assumption that issues of the pelvic floor muscles are its only possible presentation. While many are aware of the urinary and fecal incontinence aspects, the impact of untreated pelvic floor dysfunction on posture and pelvic stability is often overlooked. In this blog post, I will explore the connection between pelvic floor dysfunction and these crucial aspects of musculoskeletal health.
What Are the Subtle Signs of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
As discussed in detail in the blog: “Subtle signs of pelvic floor dysfunction’, the following are the most commonly missed symptoms when it comes to evaluating a patient for pelvic floor dysfunction:
- “Lower back pain
- Pain in the back joints of the pelvis (SI Joints)
- Pain in the front pubic area
- Arched lower back
- Slouched lower back
- Slouched mid-back or hunchback
- Military posture with the chest pushed out
- A V-stance where the torso is positioned behind the hip joints on the side view
- Chronic forward neck
- Inability to bend down below the knees
- Habitually standing on one leg with the other leg bent
- Chronic one-sided pain in the lower extremity
- Hip pain on one or both sides”
As you can see, there are many items listed here that physicians and the public miss as the telltale signs of pelvic floor dysfunction. By allowing them to go on without properly addressing them, eventually the ‘pelvic floor dysfunction’ will appear.
What Happens When Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Goes Untreated
The following are ways improper treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction in the area of the musculoskeletal world show up:
Untreated pelvic floor dysfunction can lead to postural imbalances throughout the body. The pelvis is the foundation of the trunk and with its instability comes dysfunctional movements. This translates into pain, re-injuries, and long recoveries in the major joints of the body at first. It may start in the hips, back, knees, and sacroiliac joints but with improper or no treatment, it impacts the shoulders, mid-back, neck, and overall posture as the functionality in movement is compromised.
Back, Hip, Sacroiliac, and knee Pain
It is easy to focus on the floor of the pelvis if pelvic floor dysfunction is equated to just the floor of the pelvis only. You must realize that the floor is not free-standing and is impacted by the pelvis, the house that the pelvic floor is the floor of. Then it is easy to see how the hips, sacroiliac joints, and lower back are immediately impacted. As stated above, it is only a matter of time before the whole body’s mechanics are compromised with pain, limitations, and injuries. This becomes part of the daily challenge.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is often accompanied by a weak core. Most people think the core and abdomen are the same thing when in reality, your core is the whole torso. It’s the rectangle that includes your mid-back and lower back, in the front, back, and sides.
The pictures below just show a few layers of muscles that support the front of the torso, extending to the side, and back.
Balance and Stability Issues:
As expected, with dysfunctional movement comes balancing and stability issues. This is similar to having a stack of bricks to move from point A to B while intoxicated. We can understand that but for some reason, the last thing most physicians think about is the correlation between functionality in movement and balance when patients complain about balance issues.
Untreated pelvic floor dysfunction may limit one’s ability to engage in physical activities. It is the fear of incontinence, pain, losing balance, falling, and reinjury that leads to a sedentary lifestyle. However, regular exercise is vital for maintaining overall health and preventing further musculoskeletal issues. I am not talking about going to the gym!! Long-time avoidance of activity, recurrent injuries, and overall dysfunctional movements mean that the joint(s) are not centered as they are to be. This lack of positioning of the joints will increase the potential for injuries.
What Are The Best Exercises for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
My recommended exercises are the ones that are inspired by studying babies. If all babies on the planet move the same way and go through the same developmental stages of movement, then we must be programmed this way! Through developmental movement exercises such as Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization or DNS, we can bring the function back to movement. At this point, upping the game and adding weight to the exercise makes sense. DNS is laying the proper foundation so the chances of injury, pain, and dysfunction returning are diminished if not eliminated.
If you think you have pelvic floor dysfunction, or not happy with the treatment you are receiving, do not hesitate to contact me.