Inflammatory bowel disease affects 1.3% of US adults. Inflammatory bowel disease is a term that includes 2 conditions: crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It is called inflammatory bowel because it is categorized by chronic inflammation of the GI tract.
The GI tract includes all the organs that are part of the digestive system from the mouth to the anus.
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GI tract, but it primarily affects the small intestine. The tissue is damaged in patches in areas next to healthy tissue. Inflammation can affect multiple layers of the walls of the GI tract. Ulcerative colitis occurs primarily in the large intestine and rectum. The tissue is damaged continuously instead of in patches, and inflammation is present in the innermost lining of the colon.
Symptoms of both of these can include fecal incontinence, constipation, urinary incontinence, fatigue and pelvic pain. Partnering with a pelvic floor physical therapist can help you manage and overcome many of these symptoms.
There are several ways that pelvic floor physical therapy can help you with irritable bowel syndrome.
1. Develop good bowel habits – Your posture, your breathing and level of distraction affect your bowels. In general, assuming a position where the knees are bent higher than the hips can open up the pelvis and reduce the amount of straining, breathe through your mouth and avoid bearing down while holding your breath and no phone’s on the toilet. A pelvic floor physical therapist can discuss this further and adjust the ideal position for you based on your body.
2. Abdominal Massage -Sometimes the bowels need some external help to move. Try laying on your back, start on the right side of your stomach at your pelvic bone, rub in a circular motion lightly up the right side until you reach your rib bone, move across to the left side, and work your way down to the left hip bone and back toward the belly button. Always rub in clock-wise motion for about 5 minutes. A pelvic floor physical therapist can perform & show you different techniques to get the digestive system moving.
3. Reduce pelvic pain – Since a large portion of people with IBS also have pelvic pain, a physical therapist will do a thorough assessment of the muscles in and around the pelvis. When pain is present there is often muscles tension. PT can show you different techniques to reduce muscle tension.
4. Improve pelvic floor strength and support – Pelvic floor muscles may be weak leading to symptoms such as urinary and fecal incontinence, performing strengthening exercises of the pelvic floor, core and hips can improve these symptoms.
If you are dealing with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, see a pelvic floor physical therapist. We will do a full evaluation reviewing your bowel habits, assess your pelvic floor and start you on your healing journey!