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pelvic floor physical therapist

A 101 on the credentials, training, and skills of a pelvic floor physical therapist

Two recently published articles, in the International Urogynecology Journal and in Neurourology and Urodynamics talk about the positive outcomes of treatment with trained pelvic floor therapists. Today is a basic rundown of what kinds of credentials, training, and skills a pelvic floor physical therapist has to offer you.

Credentials

Pelvic floor therapists are often physical therapists (PT), a discipline that requires academically rigorous coursework and covers topics from anatomy and kinesiology, to neuroscience, and the evaluation, treatment, and management of common diagnoses. They are also trained in a medical system, and are aware of "red flags" in signs and symptoms that patients may present with. These "red flags" will typically require additional medical referral to rule in or out (i.e. suspected masses, infection, etc).

You will often find a jumble of letters after your pelvic floor therapist’s name. Here is a breakdown of what those letters mean:

PT, MPT, MSPT, or DPT: These letters represent the degree that your pelvic floor physical therapist earned. For many years, physical therapists earned a bachelor's degree prior to becoming licensed. Later, schools transitioned to master's degree programs. The letters MPT or MSPT indicates a master's degree in physical therapy. Most programs today now train therapists for a DPT degree, which stands for doctorate of physical therapy.

Training

In addition to the academics that go into getting a PT degree, pelvic floor physical therapists have advanced training in everything about the pelvis: the bone structure, muscles, nerves, tissues, and organs of the pelvic area. This knowledge extends to the other systems that may affect the pelvis: movement patterns, neurological pain perception patterns, constipation and motility issues, water intake, etc.

With all of this extra training, pelvic floor physical therapists are better able to understand the complexities of your body and your symptoms. With such a holistic and all-encompassing view of everything “pelvis,” pelvic floor therapists can then design a treatment plan that is totally personalized to you and what you need in the moment.

Diagnoses Treated

Pelvic floor dysfunction is complex, with many dovetailing issues contributing to symptoms and pain. pelvic floor physical therapists treat conditions including:

Some clients often see a multidisciplinary team to treat their conditions. These teams often include a pelvic floor PT, other specialists including OB/GYN, pain specialists, massage therapists, yoga therapists, dieticians, and others.

Be wary of “Pelvic Floor Therapists” without proper licensure or training

There are some practitioners who claim to do pelvic floor therapy, but their practices may not be science based or medically sound. It is good to make sure that their licensure, credentials, training, and practices are up to par with the care that you deserve.

How to find a pelvic floor physical therapist

The best first step in getting care for your pelvic floor issues is to see your doctor. Pelvic floor therapists work in most major hospitals, large clinics, and in smaller outpatient clinics like Fusion Wellness PT/ Femina PT. In some states a doctor’s referral is required, so be prepared with some articles about pelvic floor therapy to show your doctor, in case they don’t know what it is (a surprising amount of practitioners do not know about pelvic floor therapy).

Resources

American Physical Therapy Association. Appropriate use of designations. Accessed on 10/17/18 at https://www.apta.org/Designations/

Berghmans, B. (2018). Physiotherapy for pelvic pain and female sexual dysfunction: an untapped resource. International Urogynecology Journal, 29(5), 631–638. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00192-017-3536-8

Sun, et al. Comparison of outcomes between postpartum and non-postpartum women with stress urinary incontinence treated with conservative therapy: A prospective cohort study. [Neurourol Urodyn] 2018 Apr; Vol. 37 (4), pp. 1426-1433. Date of Electronic Publication: 2017 Dec 11.

**This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.

What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by Jackie W.

I was in multiple car accidents a decade ago, and I have been to many physical therapists through the years without success. They found the root of my lower back pain problems and after nearly a decade of barely being able to walk I finally can again without pain. They are also the best pelvic floor pts and the only ones who found the connection between my pelvic floor and lower back problems. If you need help with physical pain, they are your answer.

-- Jackie W., 1/19/17 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Fritzette H.

I went to Heather after the birth of my third child. It was lucky, really, that I was referred to her, because my doctor had referred me to a surgeon for a possible hysterectomy or pelvic wall rebuild. Thankfully, I went to Heather before undergoing either surgery, she was able to fix the problem. She has studied extensively in women's health--even written a book about it--and was able to diagnose my problem, suggest a course of treatment (6 weeks), and then follow through with said treatment. By the end, as she said, I was as good as gold. Boy, was it worth it! Though uncomfortable to talk about, much less write about, it is worth getting the word out there. If you have painful intercourse, especially after birth or other trauma, the treatment may be as simple as Physical Therapy (with Heather, of course). I highly recommend her.

-- Fritzette H., 3/24/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by S.H., age 24

I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me for the past 19 months. I literally could not have reached my goals without you and your practice. You gave me the courage to keep moving forth with my treatment no matter how afraid and anxious I was. You were always there to answer questions and made this whole process so much easier than I expected it to be.

It's because of you that my marriage is on the right track, that I can get pregnant and that this part of my life is finally over. I really feel that Fusion Wellness is a team of people you can call family and are there to root for you and cheer you on until you reach your goals. There is nothing better than knowing I accomplished this with you guys by my side and as calmly and patiently as I needed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being there and helping me reach my goals.

S.H., age 24

Testimonial by Lauren B.

Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) has been such an answer to prayer, i'm so glad I found them! I've been struggling with vaginismus my whole life, but didn't have a name for it until about 6 or 7 months ago. Even once I did have a name for it though, I didn't know where to begin in getting help. My OB/GYN had me get a set of dilators, but I couldn't even insert the smallest one by myself. Most times I tried I just ended up frustrated and in tears. I felt really alone, like I was broken and didn't have the energy to keep trying. When I got engaged a few months ago though, I realized I needed to get answers so i wasn't dreading my honeymoon.

Read more: Testimonial by Lauren B.

Testimonial by S.H., age 24

I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me for the past 19 months. I literally could not have reached my goals without you and your practice. You gave me the courage to keep moving forth with my treatment no matter how afraid and anxious I was. You were always there to answer questions and made this whole process so much easier than I expected it to be.

It's because of you that my marriage is on the right track, that I can get pregnant and that this part of my life is finally over. I really feel that Fusion Wellness is a team of people you can call family and are there to root for you and cheer you on until you reach your goals. There is nothing better than knowing I accomplished this with you guys by my side and as calmly and patiently as I needed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being there and helping me reach my goals.

S.H., age 24

Testimonial by A.B.

Before I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat I was living in a nightmare. I had been married to my husband for three years and I was suffering from Vaginismus. That all changed when I visited my OBGYN and she said she knew of someone with a great success rate. To be honest I was hesitant at first because my first doctor had already told me that all I needed to do was order dilators from the internet and I should overcome my problem. She was wrong because I had followed the book on how to use the dilators with absolutely no advancements in my condition. However, that all changed when I went in for my first visit and Heather took the time to explain my condition and how we were going to work together to overcome it.

I remember leaving her office with a glimmer of hope that I could live a normal life. As my sessions continued I began to see immediate results. With only four sessions and a strict dedication to my home programs I was cured of Vaginismus. In the beginning of this process I was made aware that my health insurance company might not cover the costs, which was disappointing but today I can say one hundred percent that it was the best money I ever spent. Now thanks to Heather I am finally enjoying my life to the fullest with my husband. Thank you Heather, I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate all that you have done for me. I will never forget it. Those who are suffering from these types of conditions don’t be afraid because she makes you feel so comfortable and the end result is worth it. Good luck to you all and I hope you experience the success I have.
-- A.B.

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