The holiday season can be a fun-filled time packed with food, family, and gifts. Unfortunately, for those suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) the travel to visit family, time spent outside of the home, and rich meals and decadent desserts can lead to increased anxiety, uncomfortable symptoms, and flares of varying severity.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
IBS is a condition affecting the digestive system. It is not well understood, and doctors are not entirely sure why it develops. IBS is often diagnosed based on symptoms, which can include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
It is generally believed that IBS results from a dysfunction in how the brain and gut communicate. This can cause the digestive tract to be very sensitive, and can affect how the muscles of the intestines function.
There are 4 main types of IBS, grouped by symptoms. In IBS-C, constipation is the most prevalent symptom. IBS-D manifests as predominantly diarrhea. IBS-M (sometimes called IBS-A) is where constipation and diarrhea alternate, or are both present. Finally, (PI) IBS includes the aftermath of a gastrointestinal infection.
Some people find that they can control their symptoms with a combination of diet, stress management, and lifestyle, while others rely on medications. To their dismay, many IBS sufferers find that even their best efforts are not consistent and stressful times or even seasonal changes can result in uncomfortable and embarrassing symptom flares, or time of increased frequency or severity of symptoms.
Pelvic floor dysfunction and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Science has not found a definitive link between pelvic floor dysfunction and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, however pelvic floor physical therapy has shown to be effective at treating the symptoms of IBS.
Several studies, including this one, Managing irritable bowel syndrome: The impact of micro-physiotherapy, have shown that there is a link between hands-on therapies and relief of IBS related symptoms.
When pelvic floor dysfunction is present, the muscles of the pelvic floor may be weak or tense. Both can result in pelvic organs out of place, muscles unable to relax for proper elimination, cramping, or other discomfort.
It’s not difficult to see the overlap between the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction and IBS. It makes sense, because both affect the strength and mobility of the muscles of the pelvic floor and intestines.
Due to their similarities, similar treatments can also be used to address pelvic floor dysfunction and IBS. An experienced physical therapist specializing in treating pelvic floor dysfunction can provide effective treatment; physical therapy can improve IBS symptoms! Techniques may include pelvic floor training, trigger points, and myofascial release to strengthen or relax the muscles of the pelvic floor as needed.
Physical therapist can help establish an exercise routine to manage stress, which can be beneficial particularly to those suffering from constipation. Specifically, pelvic floor dysfunction physical therapy techniques can address the symptoms of IBS-C, IBS-D, and IBS-M by training the bowels to empty fully, managing signs of urgency, calming inflamed muscles or tissues, and encouraging them to work properly.
Physical therapy can improve IBS symptoms
Everyone’s body is different, and so it is important to consult with a physical therapist to determine if pelvic floor physical therapy is the right treatment for your Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Body Restoration Physical Therapy is located in Roslyn Heights, New York, on Long Island’s north shore of Nassau County. Professional and experienced, Body Restoration can help you decide if physical therapy can address your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Contact us today to book your first appointment.