A new way of thinking about and treating pelvic organ prolapse

posted in: Blog, Women's Health | 0

Our clinical manager and senior women’s health and MSK physiotherapist, Ali, recently attended a course all about assessing and treating pelvic organ prolapses. This is something that can affect women of all ages but particularly after being pregnant and giving birth.

Have you been told that you have a prolapse? Or that you might have one after giving birth? What do you think that means? Traditionally, it has been described as the pelvic organs falling into the vaginal space because the pelvic floor muscles weren’t strong enough to support them. However, this explanation doesn’t fit with how we now know the body works.

Most of us have been taught that the body is built like a tower, with one body part resting on top of the body part below. However, there is now a relatively new explanation for how the body really works…that all our bones and organs are suspended within a 3-dimensional web-like structure of connective tissue. This way of looking at the body is called biotensegrity and it explains how we are able to do a handstand without things “falling out of place”!

In a biotensegrity structure, things cannot fall as they are not reliant on being supported from the part below. But they can get pulled out of place when there is too much tension somewhere in the system. Therefore, a prolapse is not due to your pelvic floor muscles being weak and allowing your organs to fall into the vagina but rather they are tight and pulling on those pelvic organs.

Injury and scarring to the pelvic muscles, often caused by childbirth, can actually stiffen and tighten up our tissue causing that pull through the 3-dimensional connective tissue. This can cause problems soon after giving birth or can take years for the tension to build up. This tension can also cause hip and back pain which is commonly associated with a prolapse.

This is why, for most women, simply doing pelvic floor strength (kegel) exercises, doesn’t work. Physiotherapist, Anna Crowle, has researched the use of applying the principles of biotensegrity to the treatment of prolapse, and has found that releasing tension within the pelvic floor improves prolapses symptoms and grade, as well as pelvic floor function. Our women’s health physiotherapist, Ali, has trained with Anna and is here to help you.

Treatment will generally consist of doing things to help relax your pelvic floor and release tension. Stopping pelvic floor exercises is a good place to start and then focusing on deep breathing and reducing stress. Ali will then work on releasing tension in the pelvic floor and guide you with exercises and self-massage.

If you would like to book an appointment with Ali, you can book a women’s health assessment online or call us on 01322 552299.