As moms, we’ve all had or heard about one of those moments—one of those “I jumped on the kids’ trampoline/sneezed/laughed really hard/tried a new workout/insert activity here and peed a little bit” times. Sure, it happens to the best of us, becoming that thing we share in memes or giggle about over a glass of wine. Here’s the truth, though: Changes in our pelvic floor are very common postpartum, and for some, it’s a lot more than the occasional embarrassing moment—it’s frequent pain, incontinence or interference with your day to day life. And that part is not talked about nearly enough.
So we wanted to know: What can moms do during pregnancy and postpartum to prevent or address issues with the pelvic floor? We went directly to the team at The Spine + Sports Health Center, which specializes in pain management and regularly treats women dealing with a variety of pelvic problems. Team members Priscilla Amponsah, Director of Physical Therapy, and Dr. Ferdinand Iannaccone, who specializes in interventional pain management, gave us the low down on how to help the down low (if ya know what I mean).“It’s a wide encompassing issue. It’s not just doing Kegels or coming to physical therapy. There is so much more,” Amponsah says. “That’s why it’s really best to get professional care.”
When women come to The Spine + Sports Health Center, the symptoms vary. They could be complaints of incontinence or urination problems, pain or tightness in the groin, or pain during sex. But, it could also be a symptom like your posture or abdominal pain that leads doctors to discover an issue in the pelvis. It’s through the treatment process that the team is able to pinpoint what’s going on.
So, why do women even have pelvic pain? The answer is simple—we’re women. “There’s more going on in a woman’s abdomen and pelvis than a man,” says Dr. Iannaccone. “There’s multi-organ involvement in a constant state of flux where there can be structural issues or pain issues. Postpartum changes are a three to six-month process.”As moms, this area of our bodies goes through a LOT, which is why it’s important to make sure you know what’s causing any problem and know you don’t have to live in pain. “We want to isolate and try to prioritize the specific issue going on to tailor the therapies,” says Dr. Iannaccone.
That means understanding a woman’s gynecological history, and finding out if there are any underlying conditions like endometriosis or ovarian cysts. Next, they’ll start physical therapy for quick relief and identify if it’s strictly a muscular issue. The goal with therapy is to improve function in day to day activities like chasing after the kiddos or taking your favorite barre class. If the pain persists, Dr. Iannaccone says it’s time for a further workup to see if it has to do with the complex neural network in the pelvis or abdomen. If that’s the root of the problem, the team may recommend injections. The injections are administered in and around spinal tissue that targets nerve signaling from the abdomen and pelvis to minimize hypersensitivity, which may ultimately minimize pain.
And what about prolapse? Uterine prolapse means the uterus descends down through the cervix into the vaginal wall. It’s mostly seen in older or postpartum patients and can be common in multiple births. Dr. Iannaccone points out that the first priority is to keep in mind a multi-disciplinary approach, making sure the patient is under the care of OBGYN. Then, it’s finding out how to correct it. “Is this is an elasticity issue? We can work and rehab through that. Sometimes there is a need for surgical correction. We like to avoid surgery if possible,” explains Dr. Iannaccone.
No matter what the pelvic issue may be, the biggest misconception the team at The Spine + Sports Health Center sees is that women believe these problems start after pregnancy. “That’s not the case. A lot comes down to prevention and wellness. Come in during pregnancy to see a professional. It’s not as simple as doing Kegels at home, because many women don’t properly know how to engage those muscles. They need to come in and see a provider, someone who understands their needs and function,” says Amponsah.
Preparation and knowing our bodies can be key. And it’s never too late to get help for pain, mamas. If mom’s not well, nobody’s well. “The reality is you don’t have to live with pain or dysfunction. Moms sometimes get shifted behind when you’re caring for your families. No one has to live in pain. You have options,” says Dr. Iannaccone.
The Spine + Sports Health Center
Locations in Jersey City, Hoboken and Bayonne
Priscilla Amponsah leads The Spine + Sports Health Center physical therapy department by example. She utilizes an evidence-based approach to provide hands-on, individualized care to her patients, treating all ages from pediatric to geriatric. She is a skilled, licensed professional with valuable experience in various settings, and she is constantly seeking out new and innovative approaches to patient care, most recently receiving her Maitland Manual Therapy certification.
Dr. Ferdinand Iannaccone is a double board-certified physician in both Interventional Pain Management and Anesthesiology. He specializes in the non-surgical treatment of all types of spine and joint pain. Dr. Iannaccone manages his patients’ chronic and acute pain using opioid-sparing techniques, through minimally-invasive procedures, such as selective nerve blocks and ablation, spinal cord stimulation, peripheral nerve stimulation, and other alternative therapies.
This post is sponsored by The Spine + Sports Health Center to help every #NJMOM live pain-free.
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