Women's Health at Mary Free Bed Grand Rapids - Therapy to treat Pelvic Pain IncontinenceDo you have questions about recurring or chronic pelvic pain or pregnancy pain? Are you seeking information about how to manage bowel and bladder incontinence? Do you have questions about other women’s health concerns?

Below are questions we often hear from patients who are curious about the therapies and services available through Pelvic and Abdominal Rehabilitation.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

What is pelvic and abdominal rehabilitation?

Pelvic and abdominal rehabilitation focuses on the rehabilitation of the muscles, ligaments and joints of the pelvic region and surrounding areas. Symptoms commonly treated are pelvic, tailbone, abdominal or low back pain, urinary or bowel incontinence, and painful intercourse, all of which could be due to pregnancy, childbirth, age-related changes, surgery, cancer or trauma.

What should I expect on my first visit?

An evaluation generally lasts 60 minutes. The appointment begins with you and your therapist discussing your symptoms and past medical history. Your therapist will then conduct a biomechanical evaluation based on your symptoms, and may perform a brief, minimally invasive internal examination of the tone, strength and endurance of your pelvic floor muscles. At the end of the exam you will be given a home exercise program that is unique to your condition and based on exam findings. We encourage you to ask questions and share any concerns throughout the evaluation and treatment process.

How often will I have to see the therapist?

Every client is different and your plan of care is tailored to you. Our patients with bowel or bladder incontinence or dysfunction typically have 4-6 visits within a 6-8 week period. Patients with pelvic pain are generally seen 1-2 times per week, progressed to every 2-3 weeks as appropriate, often for 12-16 weeks. Pregnant or post-partum clients are usually seen one time per week to every other week for 6-8 sessions of therapy.

What will I be doing in therapy?

Treatment varies based on individuals and conditions, but commonly used interventions include exercise for pelvic floor retraining and core stabilization, education and manual therapy. Some patients benefit from modalities such as biofeedback. You’ll receive an individualized home exercise program to enable you to self-manage your symptoms. We do this while taking into account even the busiest of schedules!

How is pelvic floor training different than doing Kegels at home?

Pelvic floor training may incorporate Kegels. However, studies have shown that without proper training, many individuals actually do Kegel exercises incorrectly. Your therapist will assess the tone, strength, and endurance of the muscles of the pelvic floor. You’ll be assigned a specific type of exercise using these or other muscles based on your performance and specific condition(s). Learning the correct form and type of training should help you to recover faster and more effectively than simply doing these exercises on your own.

I’m pregnant. Is this therapy safe for me and my baby?

Absolutely. Our women’s health therapists are trained in the treatment of pregnant and post-partum women, and offer expert advice for pregnancy-related pain or other symptoms, both from a treatment and future prevention standpoint. Their goal is to improve the health and wellness of you and your baby during this period. An internal examination is generally not performed during pregnancy, and modifications to other treatments may be provided to accommodate the pregnancy.

My doctor mentioned biofeedback - what is that?

Biofeedback is a treatment technique that allows observation and measurement of your muscle activity. This non-invasive procedure uses sensors placed externally over your pelvic floor muscles. The sensors are attached to a computer through wires. You and your therapist will use this computer screen to observe your muscle activity, including the contraction and relaxation of your muscles in a variety of positions. This information serves as a learning and measurement tool for you and your therapist.

What if I have other questions?

Please feel free to contact us at any time with additional questions or comments. Simply ask to be connected to Pelvic and Abdominal Rehabilitation.


Urinary and bowel incontinence has made it difficult for me to enjoy my favorite activities. Can therapy help me to manage my symptoms?

Yes. Incontinence of bowel and bladder can occur for a variety of reasons, and can be a major disruptor to your quality of life. Whatever the cause, there are often strategies related to behavioral modification, dietary habits and strengthening and coordination of the pelvic floor and surrounding musculature that can change these symptoms. Often, with a little education, patients can see changes in their symptoms within a few weeks, which can continue to improve with long-term changes and/or exercises.

Is there a way to manage my pain during pregnancy?

Most likely. Pain during pregnancy is common, but it does not have to be normal. There are a variety of biomechanical changes that occur in the body with pregnancy, in particular in the pelvis and low back area, in addition to changes in weight distribution and posture.

A therapist can help you to pinpoint certain areas of weakness or increased strain that could be contributing to your symptoms. Your therapist can offer mechanical suggestions to help manage these symptoms and improve your overall wellness during pregnancy. Your therapist also can provide education to prevent further complications due to your condition during labor, delivery and post-partum.

What makes Pelvic and Abdominal Rehabilitation different from other physical therapy services?

Our staff of female therapists offers more than 15 years of experience working with women’s health conditions, in addition to knowledge of treating a variety of spine, neurological and other orthopedic diagnoses.

Their experience and specialized training has focused on the rehabilitation of the muscles, joints, ligaments and connective tissue of the pelvic region and surrounding areas, and how this affects overall movement patterns of the body.

All treatment is confidential and conducted in private rooms, rather than a busy gym or curtained area. Your comfort and success in treatment is the therapist’s highest priority, and each one hopes to work with you to maximize your potential for recovery.

How do I get a referral for Pelvic and Abdominal Rehabilitation?

Talk to your physician about your symptoms, as well as your desire to pursue therapy through Pelvic and Abdominal Rehabilitation. Your physician’s office can fax a script to the Outpatient Therapy Center at 616.840.9763. You should hear from one of our schedulers shortly, but if you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 616.840.8005.

We look forward to meeting you!