Mental Health, Yoga, Acupuncture, and Pelvic Pain

By Stephanie Stamas

Pelvic floor dysfunction is complicated. If you have pelvic pain or dysfunction, you know this. You know that it takes a long time to figure out what is going on and rarely is it straight forward. It’s often a more of a journey to recovery than a quick fix. As a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor dysfunction I’ve found that what makes that journey faster is having a multi-disciplinary team of specialized practitioners addressing every aspect of the dysfunction. At the next Pelvic Health 101 lecture, you will get the unique opportunity to hear from three healthcare providers who work closely with patients at Beyond Basic PT discuss how mental health, yoga and acupuncture can be excellent adjunct therapies to help you on your healing journey.

The mind-body relationship is starting to become a hot topic in research and never in the history of pain management has there been more exciting news. Until a little over a decade ago it was thought that the brain was solid and fixed by age 5, and from there the brain deteriorated. Now it is understood that the brain changes constantly based on environment, behavior, thoughts and feelings. This can be good or bad news. The experience of anxiety and pain is the bad news. The good news is that through “retraining” the brain you can reduce/eliminate pain! This is why mental health counseling can be so important on your healing journey.

Yoga as it is practiced in the U.S. can take on many forms and selecting a class/teacher can be overwhelming for those seeking to practice yoga as a therapeutic modality. For individuals with pelvic pain, it is recommended that they practice yoga that allows for a balance between slow, conscious movement to engage and gentle stretching along with an emphasis on the breath. Engaging in a simple customized yoga practice can be beneficial for those seeking to redefine their relationship with their body, specifically allowing them to move beyond their identity as a patient. Come and take some time to pause for breath and simple movement practices that can promote greater ease and comfort for the body and mind.

Acupuncture has always been at the center of pain management. Several problems that manifest as pelvic dysfunction are regularly treated by acupuncture, including incontinence, pelvic pain, IBS and constipation. In some patients, problems in the musculoskeletal system can be the underlying origin of their complaint. When the trigger point is “dry needled” by acupuncture, this mechanically disrupts the nervous system and results in mechanical and physiological changes. In Traditional Chinese Meridian Theory, the genitalia are traversed by a number of channels, thus pain can be accessed from reflex points along these channels. A treatment regime consisting of regular acupuncture in combination with physical therapy is the ideal approach for chronic pelvic floor problems.

Come join us at Beyond Basic Physical Therapy next Tuesday, April 28th at 6:30 for the final seminar in the Pelvic Health 101 Seminar Series. Don’t miss this last opportunity to find the missing link in your step towards recovery. Sign up here.

National Infertility Awareness Week

This week, April 19-25, is National Infertility Awareness Week. NIAW, as it’s known, began in 1989 to bring awareness to infertility as a disease, encouraging the public to understand more about their own reproductive health. Since 2010, Department of Health and Human Services has recognized it nationally as a federal health observance. There are a variety of programs and events held all over the country by NIAW each year to raise awareness, and you can learn more about them on the NIAW website here.

The theme of NIAW this year is “You Are Not Alone.” Given that 1 in 8 women is infertile, NIAW is encouraging the community to find support groups, reach out to one another, and remember to avoid feelings of isolation.

If you or a loved one is looking to treat infertility, visceral manipulation, or VM, is a treatment we offer at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy that has been shown to effectively treat infertility in certain cases. VM was developed by French osteopath and physical therapist Jean-Pierre Barral. It involves a series of specific and sophisticated techniques of manual therapy, all intended to “restore normal visceral (organ) movement and function and helps to integrate the function or movement of the body as a whole.” Sometimes the body’s organs fall out of alignment, just as joints sometimes do, resulting in internal irritation, inflammation, and dysfunction. Given that VM is perfect for healing these kinds of internal damages, it can be a factor in treating infertility.

VM can also be effective in healing fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, acid reflux, scar tissue, and many different kinds of pelvic pain. Learn more about VM on our website here, and schedule your appointment today.

Can I get my pre-baby body back?

By Stephanie Stamas

Everyone around me seems to be thinking about getting pregnant or has just had a baby. There is truly something in the air! I have not caught the bug yet BUT I am very invested in keeping my friend’s bodies happy and healthy. When doing a quick Google search on how to take care of yourself during pregnancy, there is SO much information out there.  How can we know what is legitimate versus fictitious? There are also so many changes in the body – how can we know what to do to help us the most? And what should we expect from our bodies post-partum? This is the topic of our next lecture of the Pelvic Health 101 Seminar Series.

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   Image via ComedyFusion.net

If you are thinking of getting pregnant, are currently pregnant or a post-partum mother (recent or your baby is about to go to college) this lecture is for you! So much of health care is focused on the little one, and this is important, but mothers need attention too! How are mothers supposed to take care of their family, carry a stroller up two flight of stairs (NYC moms) or return to work if their abdominals haven’t come back together, their pelvic floor muscles aren’t kicking in and their post-partum posture is perpetuating weakness?

This class will address what women can do to get their strength and independence back! We will discuss diastasis recti, episiotomies, perineal tears, leaking, postural changes and most importantly – what you can do to help get your body back. Don’t miss this FREE seminar – tickets are going FAST so sign up here.

Calling All Ladies!

By Stephanie Stamas

As a pelvic floor physical therapist, the number one question I get asked is, ‘How did you get into this type of therapy?’ (usually in a very confused tone) I never have a good answer for them – I don’t have a good story or personal experience. In fact, when I first heard about pelvic floor therapy I said to myself – there is NO WAY I will ever do that. But it stuck in the back of my mind and less than a month later that I was signing up for my first internal examination course. I was terrified on my way to the course, anxious about getting so up close and personal. But much to my surprise I left feeling totally empowered! I walked away from the course confident in myself as a woman and ready to dive into working with this population. When I’ve asked other therapists about their experience, I get such similar responses! Why is this?

My theory is that women know so little about their own anatomy. Growing up we’re taught that things are weird, complicated and sometimes even ugly “down there.” It’s portrayed as a forbidden zone of the body that the less you know, the better. Ladies – this is not true! How are we supposed to love ourselves  and grow into the best of ourselves if we don’t even know the basics of our body? I think all this course offered me was just basic knowledge about the female body. But with that knowledge came power and confidence, and this is the confidence that I desire for all women around me.

So ladies, I’m dedicating one whole Pelvic Health 101 lecture just for you! We’re going to dive deep into the vulvovaginal anatomy, get into the nitty-gritty about hormones and periods, discuss good vulvar health tips and start feeling comfortable in our own skin! New spots have just opened up for this class so sign up here before they’re all gone!

Physical Therapy and the Prostate

By Fiona McMahon

We hear a lot about prostate cancer nowadays, as we should. Prostate cancer is an extremely common form of cancer, which affects 1 in 7 men in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Over the years, the approach to the treatment of prostate cancer has evolved from a more surgery and radiation focused treatment, to more of a philosophy of watchful waiting. The driving factor behind this decision is that prostate cancer is usually a slow growing cancer that is discovered late in life, and therefore  a diagnosis of prostate cancer in a 65 year old man is not as likely as other cancers to have a significant impact on his lifespan.

Regardless of this new approach to the treatment, there are still many men whose cases require medical and surgical intervention. Prostate cancer is often treated surgically by removing the prostate either through a laparoscopic procedure or an open procedure. Men may prefer the laparoscopic removal of the prostate because it has been shown to cause less bleeding and it allows the surgeon to better be able to visualize the nerves responsible for erections. Other treatments for prostate cancer include cryotherapy, hormonal therapy, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Surgery carries side effects, which can have a profound effect on your life but usually these side effects will go away over time. Side effects that generally go away include urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Some permanent effects from prostatectomy surgery are dry orgasm (orgasm without ejaculate) and loss of fertility. This is because when the prostate is removed, the surgeon must cut the connection between the testicles and the urethra. Because this connection is removed, the sperm that is produced has no way to exit the penis to fertilize an egg.  Some men may chose to cryopreserve or “bank” their sperm prior to surgery.

The ability to achieve an erection and control your bladder returns spontaneously for many men after they undergo treatment for prostate cancer. The return of these abilities can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Many men find that waiting for half a year to a year for these functions to return is simply too long. They also often struggle when they compare themselves to other men who have recovered faster. Recently, there have been many studies looking at ways to expedite the return of urinary and sexual function in men who have been treated for prostate cancer.

Urinary incontinence is a frequent side effect of surgery for prostate cancer. In a 2010 study Centemero and colleagues found that participants who completed a pelvic floor muscle strengthening program before and after their prostate removal surgery experienced urinary incontinence for a significantly shorter period of time post-operatively than those who began pelvic floor muscle training after they had had their prostate removal surgery. These results were also reinforced by the work of Hischhorn and colleagues, who found that men who had received pelvic floor training prior to their prostatectomy reported significantly fewer issues with urinary incontinence.

Men have many of the same pelvic floor muscles as females do. Male pelvic floor muscle strength has also found to be an important factor in the ability to have an erection, remain continent, and avoid dribbling urine after one voids his bladder. These muscles can be trained to be stronger, relax better, and behave more effectively to help alleviate urinary and sexual symptoms following prostate cancer treatment. It is possible that strengthening your pelvic floor muscles may expedite your recovery. In a 2004 article by Siegal, pelvic floor muscle strength was found to be stronger in men without issues of erectile dysfunction, urinary dribbling, and incontinence.

The research shows that men can take an active role in speeding up their recovery from prostate cancer by participating in a pelvic floor rehab program with a qualified pelvic floor practitioner. We offer these services at Beyond Basics, so feel free to learn more about them here. By strengthening weakened muscles, stretching tight muscles, allowing for better coordination through biofeedback, pelvic floor physical therapy can help you feel like you sooner.

Sources

American Cancer Society

www.americancancersociety.org/prostatecancer. Accessed: March 10, 2015

Centemero A, Rigatti L, Giraudo D. Preoperative pelvic floor muscle exercise for early continence after radical prostatectomy: A randomised controlled study. Eur Urol. 2010 Jun;57(6):1039-43

Hirschhorn A, Kolt G, Brooks A.

A multicomponent theory-based intervention improves uptake of pelvic floor muscle training before radical prostatectomy: a ‘before and after’ cohort study. BJU Int. 2014;113:383-392

Siegal A. Pelvic floor muscle training in males: practical applications. Urology. 2014 Jul;84(1):1-7

Pain & Sexuality – Is it all in my head?

By Stephanie Stamas

No, it is not!

As pelvic floor physical therapists, a common cry among our patients is how sick they are of hearing that their pain is just in their head. Some patients go from doctor to doctor until they find a practitioner who will truly listen to their complaints. When diagnostic tests show up negative there can be a blame placed on the patient that if they just were able to ignore the pain, it would go away. Often times this is far from the truth!

This is the next topic of the Pelvic Health 101 seminar series. Pelvic pain and sexual dysfunction is often correlated with pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. When your muscles become tight and restricted, blood flow to the genitals is limited. Blood flow is not only important for penile and clitoral engorgement but also for keeping your perineal (bicycle seat area of the body) tissues healthy. When the muscles become tight, good oxygenation and nutrients are blocked from reaching the tissue resulting in delayed healing, decreased engorgement and often a burning sensation. Because muscle function and blood flow is so important to good sexual function, issues with the pelvic floor muscles can result in painful intercourse, inability to tolerate vaginal penetration, painful or difficult erections, erectile dysfunction and painful orgasm.

Issues with sexual function are not often talked about, but next Tuesday these taboo topics are going to be put out on the table. We will discuss different types of dysfunction and the role of the pelvic floor muscles but most importantly we’ll focus on what we can do to get you back to pain-free and functional sexual independence. You do not want to miss this FREE lecture! Reserve your spot here.

All seminars will be held at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy in New York City and start at 7pm. A free “Healing Pelvic and Abdominal Pain” DVD will be given to first time guests, and $20 voucher for Beyond Basics Physical Therapy products will be given to individuals attending five seminars. Space is limited, so reserve your spot today!

The School of Pelvic Health: Why is pooping so difficult?

By Stephanie Stamas

The number of Americans who deal with constipation issues is massive (4 million!)! It seems like every time I mention that I’m a pelvic floor physical therapist another friend pulls me aside with bowel movement concerns. Why is it that so many people have issues? And more importantly – what can we do about it? This is the topic of our next Pelvic Health 101 seminar.

Not only will constipation be discussed but other bowel conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, fecal incontinence, bloating and hemorrhoids will be addressed. The lecture will also go in depth on the role of fiber, water intake, toilet posture and pelvic floor muscles in having a successful bowel movement. You will even go home with easy techniques that you can implement immediately to help you get that smooth move! Don’t miss out on this FREE event – it’s a MUST for anyone who struggles on the porcelain throne. Seats are selling out fast so reserve your spot here.

All seminars will be held at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy in New York City and start at 7pm. A free “Healing Pelvic and Abdominal Pain” DVD will be given to first time guests, and $20 voucher for Beyond Basics Physical Therapy products will be given to individuals attending five seminars. Space is limited, so reserve your spot today!

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