Prior to your evaluation for Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy, you may have a few questions. Whether you were referred to Physical Therapy (PT) by your Doctor, it was recommended to you by a friend, or you read that you may benefit from Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy online or in a book, it can be nerve-racking before your first visit when you don’t know what to expect!
Let’s go through the steps of the Pelvic Floor evaluation so you feel prepared for your visit. I also want to take a moment to say to you: Congratulations! In scheduling an evaluation you have taken a huge step towards improving your well-being and getting to know your body better. Whether your symptoms involve pelvic pain, bladder or bowel control issues, difficulty during pregnancy or postpartum, or sexual dysfunction, I am so excited to work together to reach your goals!
Before You Arrive
Be sure to bring your new patient paperwork, your Driver’s License or ID, your health insurance card, and your referral/prescription from your Doctor if you have one. I love it when patients come with their paperwork filled out ahead of time. It gives me a sneak peak into what your symptoms are and helps guide my evaluation. It also avoids cutting into our valuable time together if you do not have to use time filling out paperwork once you arrive.
Wear comfortable clothing that you can move in. Oftentimes I have patients perform different movements such as squatting or standing on one leg to get an idea of how your body moves. We do have shorts to change into if you have to come to PT straight from work, but I find people feel more comfortable in their own clothing.
When You Arrive
Try to arrive 15 minutes early to your initial evaluation. When you arrive you’ll be greeted by one of our wonderful team members at the front desk and you will have plenty of time to check in and complete all the administrative tasks such as collecting your paperwork, scanning ID cards, and scheduling appointments.
A pelvic floor evaluation is made up of a few different parts:
History taking: This is when we get to have a conversation and you can share more details about your symptoms you indicated in the paperwork you filled out. I want to hear your story of your symptoms and your journey to sitting in front of me. It is important to understand your unique goals and barriers and how we can be the best team together.
Anatomy and education: I always like to explain to people a little bit more about their pelvic floor and its relation to the rest of your body. You will leave your initial evaluation with a good understanding of its function and what may be causing your current symptoms or concerns.
Examination: Every evaluation and examination is different depending on your unique symptoms, but it usually involves a few things:
Larger functional movements to better understand how your body moves (ie walking, squatting, balance, or rolling on the bed).
A strength and flexibility assessment of your surrounding muscles to see how these may influence your symptoms such as your spine, hips, or feet.
A breathing and abdominal assessment as these can greatly influence your pelvic floor.
A pelvic floor muscle examination. This examination has an external component as well as an internal component through the vagina or the rectum. The internal exam is performed with one gloved finger and lubricant and should be comfortable and pain free. During the exam I assess a few things but mainly am looking at your pelvic floor muscle strength, the tone and length of your muscles, any tender areas, and if your muscles are coordinated when you use them. This exam is performed with clear communication, intent, and of course your consent.
Diagnosis: After the evaluation, we spend time together discussing your diagnosis paired with my findings and what PT can do for you in improving your symptoms.
Homework: You will always leave your initial evaluation with homework to get started on. The key to improving Pelvic Floor symptoms is to carry over what we did or talked about in our session to home and your day to day life. This homework can be varied and may include keeping a diary of symptoms (like when your experience bladder leakage or how long your pain lasts after sex), modifying a certain part of your lifestyle (like decreasing consumption of bowel or bladder irritants), and/or strengthening and stretching exercises to help with your pelvic floor control or pelvic pain. You will leave with a clear plan on what you need to do prior to your next appointment.
After You Depart
After scheduling your future appointments with our front desk per the plan of care that we made together, breathe a sigh of relief because you did it! I guarantee that you will say to yourself ‘that wasn’t so bad.’ Dare I say you may be excited and looking forward to continuing down this path toward improving your symptoms and your life. You will leave with my contact information and also access to our online exercise program so I am easily reachable with any questions you may have.
I am so looking forward to working together to help you with your symptoms. I have worked with patients with all kinds of diagnoses — from pregnancy, to prolapse, to pain with sex and so much more! Please contact our office if you have any questions or concerns prior to your first appointment and we will do our best to assist you.