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Could I be suffering from overactive pelvic floor muscles?

WHAT ARE OVERACTIVE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES?

Overactive pelvic floor muscles refer to muscles that have difficulty with relaxing or letting go. These muscles hold a level of tension that is considered above normal and can be further subdivided as neurogenic or non-neurogenic in origin. Often, it can take a long time to be diagnosed with overactive pelvic floor muscles due to the poor awareness of pelvic floor muscles as a contributing factor for symptoms, especially when it involves a change to your bladder or bowel function.

WHAT ARE HYPERTONIC PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES?

Hypertonic and overactive pelvic floor muscles are one and the same. The usage of the word ‘hypertonic’ is aligned with more recent updates in terminology pertaining to pelvic floor dysfunction (Bo et al. 2017).

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HYPERTONIC PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES?

Patients will often describe difficulty in feeling the contraction and/or relaxation of pelvic floor muscles.

Unfortunately, symptoms of hypertonic pelvic floor muscles are quite generic, i.e. they could also result from weak pelvic floor muscles. A pelvic floor examination is a must and is performed to determine whether hypertonic pelvic floor muscles could be contributing to your symptoms which can include:

  • urinary incontinence
  • urinary urgency
  • frequent urination
  • incomplete emptying of the bladder
  • slow flow of urine
  • hesitancy or delayed start of the urine stream
  • painful urination
  • constipation
  • incomplete emptying of the bowels
  • straining when emptying the bowels
  • pelvic pain
  • low back pain
  • hip pain
  • coccyx pain
  • dyspareunia or painful sex
  • vaginismus
  • pain with tampons or Pap smears

WHAT CAUSES TIGHT PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES?

There is no one cause for hypertonic pelvic floor muscles. That being said, we commonly see hypertonic pelvic floor muscles in people who:

  • hold their tummy in throughout the day. This is something I commonly see in postpartum mummies or in persons with pain as a protection mechanism.
  • ignore the urge to wee and poo consistently or perhaps don’t feel comfortable using public toilets, therefore hold on for long periods of time.
  • have high levels of stress or fear. Much like we can develop headaches, neck or jaw pain when stressed, we can also carry this tension to our pelvic floor muscles.
  • have inflammation or infection such as urinary tract infection
  • experience birth trauma such as a levator ani injury, perineal tears or episiotomy
  • undergo abdominal or pelvic surgery such as a hysterectomy causing scar tissue
  • suffer conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, adenomyosis, interstitial cystitis which feeds a pain and tension cycle
  • are hypermobile in the hips resulting in pelvic floor compensation
  • pelvic trauma such as a fall onto the buttocks or sexual abuse

I THINK I HAVE OVERACTIVE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

It is best to book in with your Women’s Health Physiotherapist. It is important to obtain a detailed history to determine the contributing factors to your symptoms. The gold standard of assessment is a pelvic or rectal exam, however, in some instances, it may not be appropriate to do so. Click here to learn more about our techniques.

WILL MY OVERACTIVE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES GET BETTER?

There is the potential for the resolution of symptoms. This however is best ascertained in a case by case scenario, taking into account your story. We have to look for answers within and beyond the pelvis to reach the outcomes that matter to you. There is no point in stretching your muscles if the problem is the day-to-day movement patterns causing the tightness.

If you would like to know whether overactive pelvic floor muscles are contributing to your symptoms, please call/WhatsApp on 9780 7274 or get in touch over email to learn how we can work together.

You can also visit our website to learn about other women’s conditions we treat through physiotherapy and how we can help you.

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Embrace Physiotherapy is committed to 5 star client satisfaction.

I highly recommend Embrace. Unlike most, my journey with them was a little different. It was treatment for my pelvic floor recovery post L5S1 fusion with cauda equina. My therapist Brenda was fantastic. Not only was she very professional, but she made me very comfortable from the very 1st minute. Always encouraging, I felt assured and confident with her during my recovery period. Today i got discharged after a 4 month treatment and i cant thank Brenda more. Thank you for walking this journey with me.

thumb Haryati Richli
January 24, 2022

the work the professionals at this clinic do is so important - often women’s issues are overlooked as part and parcel of pregnancy and childbirth and it’s essential to realise these conditions don’t have to be just tolerated. i visited this clinic for rehabilitation regarding my csection birth and for other bodily issues proceeding from childcare and over the months i was seeing brenda i have not only managed those issues but also gained a better understanding of how my body works and how to help prevent future recurrence of such problems. everyone working at embrace is wonderfully considerate and approachable - they put you at your ease from the very first moment. cannot recommend this clinic enough. thank you so much for looking after me so well!

thumb helen vs
June 13, 2022

Highly recommend Embrace for women's PT. I saw Preet after the birth of my son and she took very good care of me, helping me to build my strength back. All the staff are lovely, I had a great experience.

thumb Katherine Lobo
July 13, 2022

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