Myofascial Release and Pelvic Organ Prolapse
By Amy L. Beyer, LAT, LMT
Did you ever wonder why women tend to have more pelvic pain issues than men? Here are three reasons why: (1) the female pelvis has joint surfaces that are flatter and more moveable than a males, so misalignment occurs more easily, (2) a woman’s pelvis is wider, so it is more easily torqued and traumatized, (3) at one point during a woman’s monthly cycle, a hormone (relaxin) increases causing a relaxation of ligaments making her more prone to injury at that time.
An increase has been noticed in the number of woman suffering from pain/dysfunction due to fascial restrictions caused by childbirth and surgery. A woman’s body is designed for childbirth, but the American way of delivery is unnatural and can end up presenting lingering physical trauma. The number of pelvic/abdominal surgeries, including exploratory surgeries, is on the rise. After surgeries, childbirth, or other traumas, the fascia starts to solidify and harden becoming tighter and tighter over time and eventually producing serious symptoms. The pain/dysfunction from any of these traumas may occur immediately or have a cumulative effect that doesn’t become obvious for weeks, months, or years after the trauma has occurred.
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) has many general symptoms including:
- Pressure, pain, or “fullness” in vagina, rectum, or both.
- Urinary/fecal incontinence or urine retention (feeling like you need to urinate, but can’t).
- Feeling like your “insides are falling out”.
- Back/abdominal pain.
- Can’t keep a tampon in.
Many of these symptoms can be caused by an accumulation of myofascial restrictions that have built up over a woman’s lifetime. These restrictions can exert crushing pressure on pain-sensitive structures resulting in pain/dysfunction. Fascial restrictions tend to shorten the tissue causing a weakness and lack of support to the organ; consequently, a dropping of the organ (prolapse) and/or tilted organs may occur.
Myofascial release has provided tremendous relief in the symptoms listed above. After treating the fascial restrictions, clients notice a freeing effect in the pelvic region accompanied by decreased pain/dysfunction. When alignment of the pelvic tissue is restored, organ support can ultimately be re-established minimizing or sometimes eliminating any prolapse. It is critical to first eliminate the fascial restrictions that are pulling on the organs; then once alignment has been restored, a pelvic stabilization/strengthening program needs to be incorporated to help maintain stability.
Have you noticed any of these symptoms? If so, it is important for you to discuss them with your MD or bring them to the attention of your therapist. If these symptoms are addressed early, it is possible to prevent a more advanced prolapse in the future.
Barral D.O., Jean-Pierre. Merceir D.O., Pierre. Visceral Manipulation. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press; 1983, pp. 260-261.
Barnes PT, John. www.myofascialrelease.com.