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What is a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist?

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

We go by many names - Physical Therapist, Women’s Health Therapist, Men’s Health Therapist, Abdominopelvic Therapist. Many PTs have chosen their title based on their patient population and training. A therapist who chooses to treat only women may prefer to be called a Women’s Health Therapist and, in addition to treating pelvic dysfunction, may also treat other conditions common to women. A Pelvic Health Physical Therapist specializes in the treatment of pelvic dysfunction and pain in all adults and, depending on their training, occasionally children as well.

We can have a variety of training. Most Doctor of Physical Therapy programs provide minimal education on the function and role of the pelvic floor aside from it being a group of muscles in our body. Newer graduates are getting more and more training on pelvic floor function but it remains inadequate to competently evaluate and treat the pelvic floor. Any good pelvic therapist will have taken continuing education courses (CEs) or completed a residency. CEs are typically weekend courses that range from basic to very complicated and can be broad overviews or cover specific conditions. Another mode of post-doctoral pelvic education is a residency, typically a one year long mentoring program in which the PT resident takes courses and is provided direct clinical mentoring. Pelvic therapists may also receive informal mentoring within the clinic and perform self-guided learning to grow as a clinician.

Our credentials all start the same: PT (Physical Therapist). If someone has a Doctorate in PT the next letters would be DPT, or MPT for a Master’s in PT. It may continue from there with a variety of letters or certifications though our national organization, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). The APTA has recommended that all other certifications are listed out under the PT's name. For example:

Jane Doe, PT, DPT

Board Certified Women’s Health Specialist

But what is a Board Certified Women’s Health Specialist? This is a therapist who has taken and passed an additional exam sanctioned by the APTA and administered once per year. This exam tests our knowledge of pelvic and women’s health.

What do we treat?

Well the short answer is it depends on the therapist, and their training and preferences. It could be any of the following:

  • Lymphedema associated with cancer treatments

  • Pelvic pain (dyspareunia, vestibulodynia, vulvodynia)

  • Pain during and after pregnancy

  • Urinary incontinence, urgency, frequency

  • Fecal incontinence, urgency

  • Constipation

  • Interstitial Cystitis

  • Hip, abdominal and low back pain

  • Prehab and Post surgery recoveries

  • Prolapse

Because our base level of education is as a Doctor of Physical Therapy, we may also treat other injuries or concerns including neck or upper back pain, shoulder pain, jaw pain, headaches, knee/foot/ankle pain, etc.

I hope you have a better understanding of who Pelvic Health Physical Therapists are and some of the conditions we treat.

If you have any questions about what we do or if you can benefit from our services, please contact us at (214) 924-1602 or .

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