Our team of physiatrists and physical therapists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of abdominal and pelvic pain (dysfunctions) for men and women of all ages.
We empower patients with noninvasive techniques to help manage symptoms, relieve pain and improve strength, mobility and function.
Physician referrals may be made through:
Great Lakes Health Connect
616.840.8684 – phone
616.840.9771 – fax
Who We Help
Patients with chronic or recurring pelvic and abdominal pain (dysfunctions):
- Musculoskeletal pain (hip, low back, sacroiliac joint, tailbone)
- Bladder and bowel incontinence
- Painful intercourse
These issues may stem from:
- Perinatal pelvic changes
- Surgery (C-section, hysterectomy, bladder suspension or other abdominal surgeries)
- Effects of radiation to the pelvis for cancerous conditions (or pelvic radiation)
- Neurological disorders
- Pregnancy (prenatal and postpartum)
- Diastasis recti (also known as abdominal separation)
How We Help
Mary Free Bed’s Pelvic and Abdominal Rehabilitation Program delivers an interdisciplinary model of care that includes the collaboration of physicians and physical therapists who specialize in the rehabilitation of pelvic and abdominal diagnoses. This superior clinical model is the ONLY program of its kind in West Michigan.
Our team-based model includes:
- Initial appointment with both a physician and a physical therapist to ensure effective communication and eliminating the need for multiple physical examinations
- Treatment appointments with a physical therapist
- Ongoing communication between physical therapist and physician
- Follow-up visit with physician to evaluate progress
- Treatment based mainly on physical therapy techniques, but may involve conservative medication management or injection therapy if appropriate
The pelvic floor is a group of small, but very important, muscles that sit within the pelvic bones. They provide stability, as well as influence the movement of the hips, legs and low back. These muscles also make up the container for important organs of the urinary, digestive and reproductive systems. They are essential in balance, continence and sexual functioning. Pelvic floor dysfunction can present as a multitude of symptoms including constipation, incontinence of urine or stool, painful intercourse, pelvic pain, hip pain or low back pain.
Our team can help determine the primary contributing causes of your symptoms and establish a treatment program to address those causes.
Pregnancy-Related (Prenatal and Postpartum)
A variety of biomechanical changes occur in the body during pregnancy, particularly in the pelvis and low back area, in addition to changes in weight distribution and posture.
Prenatal: A physical therapist can help pinpoint certain areas of weakness and offer mechanical suggestions to help manage painful symptoms and improve overall wellness during pregnancy. The therapist can also provide education to prevent further complications during labor, delivery and postpartum.
Postpartum: Following childbirth, new moms can experience problems with urinary and bowel leakage, organ prolapse, generalized pelvic pain, and pain with intercourse. Your physical therapist can teach you techniques to help re-train your pelvic floor muscles, improving the strength and coordination needed for bowel and bladder control. Utilization of a variety of manual therapy techniques can help alleviate problems with pelvic pain following vaginal tearing or an episiotomy. Your physical therapist also can provide biomechanical suggestions to help reduce painful stress on your back and pelvic girdle that often occurs with breast feeding and when caring for young children.
Bowel and bladder incontinence can occur for a variety of reasons, negatively disrupting quality of life. Whatever the cause, often strategies related to behavioral modification, dietary habits and pelvic floor strengthening can improve these symptoms.
Oncology-related dysfunctions create unique challenges, including injury to the lymphatic system, tissue injury from radiation and systemic issues from chemotherapy. Long-term effects of cancer treatment can cause pelvic or abdominal pain, incontinence, sexual dysfunction, fatigue or bone-density issues.
Patients are empowered and taught how to manage symptoms noninvasively to relieve pain and improve function, mobility and strength.
Pelvic and abdominal rehabilitation focuses on treatment of the muscles, ligaments and joints of the pelvis and surrounding regions. Physical therapy helps relieve pain and improve function through promotion of good posture appropriate body mechanics, reduction of soft tissue adhesions with manual therapy, and prescription of an individualized exercise program to help provide long term relief. Comfort and success in treatment is our highest priority.
Physical therapy services include:
- Instruction on behavioral techniques and dietary modifications for bladder and bowel retraining
- Biofeedback to train/re-educate pelvic floor muscles
- Electrical stimulation
- Fitting for braces or supports
- Prescription of an individualized exercise program
- Integration of manual therapy techniques: Joint mobilization, stretching, myofascial release, soft tissue mobilization
- Education on pain management strategies
- Postural and biomechanical education and training
- Utilization of therapeutic exercise for strengthening and conditioning
Kelly Armstrong, MD
Colleen Sullivan MD
Keri Spangenberg PT
Melanie Werth PT, DPT
Sarah Ayotte PT, DPT
Frequently Asked Questions
Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.