700 Children's Blog

Pelvic Muscle Rehabilitation: More Than Just Kegels!

Feb 27, 2019
Pelvic Rehab

Does your child complain of frequent abdominal pain, pelvic pain, and/or menstrual or stomach cramping while on or off their period?

Does your child have a diagnosis of endometriosis? 

If yes, then your child may benefit from pelvic muscle rehabilitation by a specially-trained physical therapist who can help treat these complaints.

Chronic pelvic pain is defined as pain in the abdomen or pelvis that has lasted longer than three months. This is not typical in young females. Pelvic muscle rehabilitation may be helpful to decrease chronic pelvic pain.

Pelvic muscle rehabilitation is an approach to treating complaints surrounding the pelvis including pain due to muscle guarding, which is a protective response in a muscle to fear of movement or pain, or incontinence issues due to pelvic floor muscle weakness.

  • One of the primary reasons females complain of high levels of pelvic and abdominal pain is due to chronic guarding and gripping of the abdominal muscles.
  • Guarding in conjunction with a chronic pain posture (hunched over, protective posture), causes over activation of abdominal muscles often leading to pain.

Muscle relaxation techniques are initially used during pelvic muscle rehabilitation to decrease muscle tension and lessen pain.

  • To decrease tone and over activation of abdominal muscles, patients respond very well to muscle releases performed by a physical therapist and diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Muscle releases help to decrease tone of overactive muscles.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing allows for expansion of the abdominal wall, a decrease in intra-abdominal pressure, and muscle relaxation in addition to decreasing stress and anxiety.

After decreasing muscle tension, strengthening of postural, core and pelvic floor muscles is recommended for patients with chronic abdominal and pelvic pain as well as urinary incontinence.

Increasing pelvic floor muscle strength and endurance (commonly known as “Kegels”) can help decrease stress urinary incontinence which often occurs with coughing, sneezing or impact activities including running and jumping. Leaking urine with impact activities is sometimes viewed as “normal” among female athletes, but often indicates pelvic muscle weakness and impaired core stability.

For more information on treatment of chronic pelvic pain and stress urinary incontinence, or to request an appointment with a Pelvic Muscle Rehabilitation Specialist in our Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapy team, click here

Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Christine Mansfield, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC
Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapy

Christine Mansfield, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, completed her doctorate of physical therapy at Duke University. After graduating she completed an orthopedic residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She is a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist and certified athletic trainer.

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700 Children’s features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.