Physical therapy in general is a specialized profession that focuses on the bones, muscles and connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, fascia) of the body. Where physical therapy excels from any other health care profession is our expertise of the body in motion. Our Director at Eastern Washington University would always remind us that we are health care experts of movement. This fact has never been truer when describing the dynamic nature of the female musculoskeletal system.
There are many stages of change that happen over the course of a female’s life; pre-pubescent, starting menses, maternal, menopausal, and older adult. My focus is to describe those changes, and how these changes directly affect the musculoskeletal system. Add disease, trauma, sedentary lifestyles and emotions, it creates a complicated web of pain, problems and concerns for the body and mind. Physical therapy can be the answer for many of those concerns.
Physical therapy for women was originally called the section on Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 1977, Elizabeth Noble formed The Section on Women’s Health of the American Physical Therapy Association. This section was originally created to address the musculoskeletal concerns of pregnancy and postpartum females. It became apparent that treating women that are pregnant was more that “low back pain with a bump”. Traumatic childbirths often lead to several issues that also needed to be addressed. And childbirth in of itself is trauma: bleeding, cutting, tearing, pain, stitches, etc.
Physical therapy in women’s health has matured since 1977 and now incorporates many obstetric, gynecological and musculoskeletal concerns. In my personal practice, I have treated females with a variety of different issues. Here is a brief list of my personal experiences: lymphedema, collegiate athletes, the pregnant athlete, post mastectomy, breast enlargement/reduction, low back pain, sacroiliac pain, fibromyalgia, wellness, exercise pre-gastroplasty, fecal incontinence, urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, pain with intercourse, osteoporosis, obesity, post hernia repair, and cesarean section pain/scar tissue mobilization.
I will continue to describe women’s health in physical therapy through specific posts. I will leave it to my readers, mentors and my own inspiration to further elaborate on those topics. As a note, I highly respect gender and sexual identification. I am attempting to address my topics with anatomical references; any advice is greatly appreciated.
http://www.ewu.edu/CSHE/Programs/Physical-Therapy/PT-Faculty-and-Staff/Byron-Russell.xml Accessed by Cheryl Lynn Rudd on October 12, 2011
http://www.womenshealthapta.org/plp/index.cfm Accessed by Cheryl Lynn Rudd on October 12, 2011.
Neille C. High Risk Pregnancy and Postpartum Physical Therapy.