Pelvic Therapy Wands
Myofascial Pelvic Pain syndrome (MFPPS) is defined by the presence of increased tension and tenderness to palpation of the pelvic floor muscles. Pain may be localized to the pelvic floor muscle that is being palpated but it may also refer to other areas within the pelvis, hips, abdomen, and/or low back. Pelvic floor muscles assist with urinary, defecatory, and sexual function. In MFPPS, increased tension in the pelvic floor muscles reduces the optimal coordination of contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. As a result, the symptom of pelvic pain commonly occurs in tandem with other pelvic symptoms such as urinary frequency, urgency, constipation, and bladder or bowel incontinence, to name a few.
Pelvic floor physical therapists are trained to identify the presence of pelvic tension externally and/or internally during your assessment and treatments. This is done through a physical examination where the therapist uses their fingers to gently touch and/or stretch the muscles of the pelvic floor. This technique allows the pelvic floor physical therapist to locate the pelvic floor muscles and soft tissue within the pelvis thereby identifying areas of restricted or excessive movement, decreased strength and/or coordination of muscle activation.
The deep layers of the pelvic floor muscles are not easily observed visually as they are not located external to the body. This can make connecting to activating and relaxing these muscles challenging. Feeling with the fingers, and extensive education on anatomy and location of the pelvic floor using 3D models and pictures, can help improve this connection. Depending on one’s comfort level on touching their own body, therapists can help guide you on how to access these muscles using your own thumbs, fingers, or with the use of a tool such as a pelvic wand.
For those with the presence of increased tension in their pelvic floor muscles, a pelvic therapy wand may be a very useful tool to incorporate as part of your home exercise program.
Rectal or vaginal pelvic wand
It is a curved tool and the shape of the therapy wand is intended to facilitate ease of insertion into the vagina or anus and access all layers of the pelvic floor muscles. It is often made of medical grade plastic or glass. The use of a therapy wand should always be initiated under the direction of a pelvic floor physical therapist. Pelvic floor physiotherapists will first determine whether a pelvic wand is an appropriate tool for your specific symptoms, guide you on the proper technique and goals of its use as well as educate you on how to store and clean your tool.
A pelvic therapy wand has a smooth tip at the end that directs gentle pressure to muscles within the pelvic floor with increased tension. The pressure to these areas allow the brain to better locate and identify where to focus and facilitate pelvic muscle relaxation. Pelvic muscle relaxation is an exercise technique learned and guided through pelvic floor physical therapy treatment. It often incorporates diaphragmatic breathing, positive affirmations, visualizations, and gentle, non painful stretch, pressure, and massage to the pelvic muscles. As the tip of the therapy wand provides pressure, stretch, and/or gentle stroking movements to the muscle, the strategies to optimize pelvic floor relaxation and other nervous system calming techniques are initiated. The evoked relaxation response throughout the whole body reduces the transmission of “threat” or nociceptive signals that is perceived from this area. Therefore, the responsive output of pain from the brain is attenuated. Locally, the pelvic muscles decrease in tension and there is increased blood flow and oxygenation to the local tissues and sensitized nerves.
With the proper guidance, a pelvic wand is a very useful and empowering tool to improve self efficacy and provide symptom relief for painful pelvic symptoms.