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Pelvic Floor Specific Biofeedback

Pelvic Floor Specific Biofeedback

Biofeedback takes information about something happening in the body and presents it in a way that you can see or hear; which can help you understand. Getting on a scale to check your weight or having your blood pressure taken are very simple examples of biofeedback.  Biofeedback measures the body’s responses such as heart rate or muscle contraction and relaxation. The measurement can be displayed on a computer screen or heard as a tone and used to learn about a subtle body function.

How is biofeedback used to treat incontinence and bladder problems?

Biofeedback has been proven effective in the treatment of urinary incontinence in numerous research studies. It can be used to help women learn to control and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles (PFM) are a group of muscles that play an important role in bladder control. Weakness or dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles can lead to problems with both bladder and rectal support and control.

Because you cannot see the pelvic floor muscles, you may have found it difficult to locate them. Perhaps you are uncertain if you are doing the exercises correctly. This is when your physical therapist at A Different Approach - PT for Women (ADAPT) may use biofeedback to help. Biofeedback therapy uses computer graphs and audible tones to show you the muscles you are exercising. It also allows the therapist to measure your muscles contractility and individualize your exercise program.  It is a teaching tool to help you learn to control and strengthen the pelvic floor area.

How is biofeedback used to treat pelvic pain?

Biofeedback is a valuable tool in the treatment of pelvic pain.  Pelvic floor muscles that are held in a constant state of contraction are a common finding in women with pelvic pain.  Most women are not conscious that they are holding their pelvic floor in a state of constant tension.  Biofeedback allows you to see the state of your muscles and learn how it feels to relax your muscles.  It is also not uncommon for women to have poor control of their pelvic floor muscles.  After you are able to begin relaxing your muscles, biofeedback can provide cues to help you gain better control and strength of your pelvic floor. 

How is biofeedback done?

Biofeedback can be performed with internal or external sensors or both.  External biofeedback is performed by placing two small sensors with a sticky pad on either side of your anus, where the pelvic floor muscles are close to the skin.  Internal biofeedback is performed by placing a sensor about the size of your thumb vaginally or rectally.  The sensors are then connected to a computer screen and allow a graph of your muscles to be displayed as they are being exercised. The graphs also are helpful to compare the change in your muscles between biofeedback visits.

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