5 Tips To Ease Pelvic Pain that Won’t Go Away!

If Your Pelvic Pain Won’t Quit, Read on for 5 Tips to Help!

Here at Purple Mountain PT we have a heart for anyone who is experiencing pelvic pain that just won’t quit.  We understand the despair you feel and the lack of answers when you go from provider to provider.   Our Doctors of Physical Therapy have many years experience working with people who, unfortunately, have lengthy and frustrating journeys to finding us and getting the real help they need.

What are Some Common Things That Our Patients Tell Us?  Here’s an example.

Sarah’s Story:   Do You See Yourself in Her Story?  Names have been changed for privacy.

Sarah is a 44 year old female who came to us with lower abdominal pain and vaginal/pelvic pressure that bothered her most days.  It had been going on for the last six years or so, and developed around the time her last child was born.  In those six years she thought her problem was an ovarian cyst, but when the doctor found a cyst she was told that it should simply be monitored and no further treatment was recommended.  She found herself taking ibuprofen more often than she liked and this also caused some issues related to her migraines, rebound headaches.  She developed some back pain and went to physical therapy for this; the PT didn’t help.  At one appointment they had her sit in a chair and march in place and she thought it was a silly exercise that wouldn’t help her, so she stopped going.  The pelvic pressure was worse around her menstrual cycle, but occurred throughout the entire month and was bad enough that she avoided jogging and intimacy.

She found us because one of her friends told her about us, but she had already been to physical therapy for her back and that PT told her that her pelvic floor was fine.

She was skeptical when calling Purple Mountain PT, but when her friend promised her that we were different and more effective, she scheduled an evaluation.  At her evaluation we found that her pain was her main concern and was present just about everyday and often causing her to feel out of shape and unable to workout to get into shape.  We also discovered that she experienced urinary leakage and sometimes urinary urgency.  Her constipation was an ongoing problem, with bowel movements once every 2nd or 3rd day.  Intimacy was not comfortable and was not enjoyable, her libido was gone.

Our examination found that she had a variety of things that we needed to address to help her pain:

  • Myofascial restrictions in her abdominal wall including trigger points in numerous muscles that were contributing to daily pain.
  • Tension and muscle guarding and tightness in her hip muscles, inner thighs and low back.  These were a major source of her problem and needed to be effectively treated with myofascial release, trigger point release, joint mobilization and pelvic and low back alignment methods.
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction characterized by high tone pelvic floor, meaning her pelvic floor muscles were stiff and painful.  These were a big driver of her pain and her urinary urgency and leakage and likely contributing to her constipation, also.
  • The presence of migraines plus the chronic pelvic pain render us suspicious for her having a ramped up nervous system that easily experiences pain.  We use a validated questionnaire to find out if this is the case and it was for Sarah.  Because of this we use a combination of education, neural calming techniques, heart rate variability training and myofascial release and muscle calming hands-on methods to calm down her sensitized nervous system.
  • Inability to exercise is a big problem and something we needed to improve.  We found she was quite weak & often tight in many major muscle groups including her glutes, quads, inner thighs, hamstrings, low back, postural stabilizers in her upper back, abdominals and calves.  Her weakness was from a combination of being sedentary and also from her condition inhibiting the proper firing of her muscles; we needed to retrain the muscles and restore her capacity to exercises.

Because Sarah’s case is common and, if you are reading this blog, you likely share some characteristics with Sarah, we can offer five tips to help you today.  These are things you can do today that we also suggested Sarah begin on her first day of treatment.

5 Tips To Ease Your Pelvic Pain that Won’t Go Away!

Tip 1:  Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing

The diaphragm is a pathway to calming down high tone pelvic floor and chronic pain.  Learning to effectively breathe with your diaphragm is a key skill that is usually dysfunctional when someone has chronic pain.  This may seem like a simple, useless tip. But, take our word for it and our patients’ word for it:  diaphragmatic breathing is an important skill to help nudge your body out of pain.

Tip 2:  Lengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles

This is tricky to learn and, especially when someone has chronic pelvic pain, usually they have very limited capacity to let go of their pelvic floor muscles because these muscles are stiff and tight.  For the most effective results, you truly need hands-on care from one of our Doctors of PT.   But, please give this tip a good, solid try.  Practice makes perfect, so you’ll have to work on it multiple times a day.

Here’s one way you can learn how to melt your pelvic floor muscles:  lie down in a quiet location. Clear your mind.  Soften your breathing.  Relax your abdomen.  Bring your awareness to your pelvic floor area.  Relax your glutes.  Let go of your tailbone, invite it to float back towards the floor.  Soften and open the anus, let go of the back area.  Drop your vagina by fully letting go of it.  Simulate peeing and invite a release/opening of the area where you pee.  Never push these muscles to get them to release.

Tip 3:  Optimize your gut health

This is crucial when trying to resolve pelvic pain.  You must have daily bowel movements that are well formed and without straining.   Look closely at your nutrition and eliminate all foods that might constipate you and/or cause intestinal bloating or distress.  Consider seeing a dietician for expert guidance.  Aim to eat 30 grams of fiber a day, if you can tolerate fiber.

Tip 4:  Optimize your water intake

Because Sarah had some issues with urinary control and urgency, she had slowly reduced her water intake.  This actually worsens bladder wellbeing and can contribute to bladder spasms and ongoing pelvic pain.  For your bladder to be happy you need optimal water intake.  You should be urinating about every 2 to 4 hours and you want your urine color to be light yellow.

Tip 5:  Movement is Needed

With chronic pelvic pain we know that movement is needed.  You must move.  The less you do, the more you hurt.  The challenge is figuring out how much movement is well tolerated and which movements to do.  In general, it is smart to begin with brisk walking and some light stretching.  Think about stretching your hips, low back and legs.  Be gentle with your movements, never forcing a stretch.

Bonus Tip 6:  Prioritize Sleep, Relaxation and Meditation. 

Sleep is how our body restores itself.  You must prioritize sleep, address sleep apnea problems and keep a regular bedtime.  By building relaxation and meditation into your daily routine, you will further nudge your nervous system towards a more balanced and less sensitized state and this will, in concert with everything else you are doing, help you have less pain.  Research has shown us that individuals who have chronic pelvic pain experience higher rates of anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. We also know that multimodal (meaning a team of providers with various clinical expertise) care is best for you.  For a link to an NIH article detailing some important findings related to chronic pelvic pain, click here.  It is common that your team might consist of a physical therapist, counselor, psychologist, sleep specialist, gynecologist, physiotrist and other providers.

For our patient, Sarah, these 5 simple tips got her started with a plan for what she could do at home.

With our skilled therapy, which primarily comprised of hands-on treatments from her shoulders to her knees (because pelvic pain and fascia connections extend throughout the body), bladder calming treatments and parasympathetic nervous system activation, she was able to gradually increase her exercise and daily activities.  We worked closely with her completing specific exercises to teach her how to reduce her pain while also building up better strength and function of her muscles, especially her core muscles, hips and thighs.  While these tips have worked for many of our patients, please keep in mind that you are not our patient and, therefore, this is not medical advice for you.  Everything here illustrates what worked for Sarah and other patients.  Please, if you are having pelvic pain that won’t quit, give us a call so we can customize our recommendations for you.

Peace,

 

Dr. Maureen O’Keefe, DPT and the Purple Mountain PT Team

Pelvic Floor PT in Grand Rapids!

You Have Found The Best Pelvic Floor PTs in Grand Rapids!

Here at Purple Mountain Physical Therapy we offer advanced and expert pelvic floor PT in Grand Rapids for women, men and children.  We understand that when you have a pelvic problem you don’t know where to go to receive your care and you want to make certain that you are getting the best results.  Our doctors of physical therapy are uniquely qualified and offer you many years experience and advanced post-doctoral education specific to the challenging needs of pelvic health.

Pelvic Floor PT Explained!

Some patients tell us “I was skeptical this could help my urinary urgency and frequency, but now I’m a believer because it is so much better.”

We know that pelvic floor PT can be a bit of a mystery.  Most of our patients tell us that they had no idea what pelvic PT would do for them.   Pelvic floor PT is a specialty field within physical therapy that focuses upon treating bladder, bowel, pain and intimacy related problems for women, men and children.  Our pelvic floor PT clinic in Grand Rapids is a place for you to be evaluated and treated with expertise and compassion in a trauma-informed setting that truly elevates the standard of care you should expect to receive from all of your providers.  Our Doctors of Physical Therapy have passed their physical therapy boards and have also gone on to complete extensive post-doctoral training specific to the field of pelvic health physical therapy.

What to Expect at Your First Appointment

It all  begins with the first phone call!

First, you will know from your first phone call that you are receiving care from people who truly care about you and who strive to provide you with excellence.  Our care is always welcoming, holistic, compassionate and trauma-informed.

Your Pelvic Floor Evaluation Appointment is Holistic

Your first appointment will be an evaluation, where we will go into depth with talking about your pelvic concerns.  Some people come to us with focused and specific concerns, such as chronic lower abdominal pain that worsens with a full bladder.  Other people come with more general pelvic concerns; for example, they had a child ten years ago and since then they have had some mild, annoying urinary incontinence and intimacy has not been quite the same.   Men often present with severe pain that has been frustrating and ongoing.  It is common that men have chronic prostatitis pain and/or nerve related problems of the pelvic floor.  We are experts in nerve pain, including pain that radiates into the genitalia, perineum, anus and sit bones, as well as sciatic pain and other nerves.  Rest assured, we will evaluate and treat every patient for the specifics related to numerous nerve conditions.

We begin treatment on the first appointment.

During this evaluation we begin treatment right away.   This includes advising you on how to optimize bladder, bowel and intimacy function.  If your child is our patient, we include the child and parent into all evaluation and treatment methods and all care is age-appropriate and focused upon optimizing the child’s bladder and bowel function.  Our examination may include an in-depth assessment of your posture, hip mobility, low back function, thoracic spine and diaphragm.  We examine and treat your abdominal wall strength and diastasis recti abdominus. Every adult patient receives a comprehensive myofascial assessment of all tissues from your shoulders to your knees (we check your neck and feet, if warranted, also).  It is common that we find trigger points and areas of decreased blood flow in the tissues we evaluate and treat.   As we discover items that are contributing to your symptoms, we educate you about our findings, commence treatment and help you understand what you can do to help yourself at home.

What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

Broadly speaking, pelvic floor dysfunction refers to the muscles at the base of your pelvis not working quite right.  In many cases these muscles have stiffness, tightness and trigger points.  In some cases, the muscles are weak.  Other times the muscles have adequate strength, but their timing and coordination with other muscles is impaired, leading to urinary or gas leakage or pelvic organ prolapse symptoms.  When these muscles are not working properly, because they work in concert with your abdominal wall and low back, they often contribute to pain in the abdomen, hips or back.  Some people with pelvic floor dysfunction have considerable pelvic pain; for another article related to pelvic pain and physical therapy, you may be interested in this brief read from the American Physical Therapy Association.  These muscles also provide you control of your bladder and bowel, so if they are dysfunctional you may experience urinary leakage or frequency and urgency.   The pelvic floor muscles have both superficial and deep layers; for some of the women and men we treat their primary problem is in the superficial layers.  We check all of the layers of your pelvic floor muscles so that you can receive the right treatment to effectively recover your problem.

What does Pelvic Floor PT Involve?

Our treatment is holisitic.  This means that we evaluate and treat the numerous things that contribute to your pain, so that you experience excellent results.  Our treatment is not cookie-cutter.  You get specific care related to your body’s needs.  Our care is often hands-on manual therapy that includes myofascial release, trigger point release, and nerve release.  We also focus quite a bit on improving blood flow to your tissues because blood flow is the source of life & nutrition for your body, especially your nerves.  We also offer treatment that is exercise based and focused upon recovering the coordination and firing of your pelvic floor muscles with your abdominals, low back, hips and knees/feet.  For some people’s needs, we include balance training,  jumping exercises and dynamic exercises that challenge the pelvic floor muscles so that they begin to fire more appropriately.   We will assess and treat your abdominal wall so if you have a diastasis recti abdominus, we will provide very targeted exercises and myofascial work to facilitate recovery of your abdominal wall.

Why Should I Choose to Come To Purple Mountain Physical Therapy?

Our goal is to provide you excellence in care so that you experience meaningful results.  Each appointment is with the same physical therapist, is private and lasts upto 55 minutes.  We never bounce you around to a lesser trained person or someone you don’t know.  Because we have extensive post-doctoral training and experience treating very challenging pelvic conditions, you can expect an expertise that is difficult to find.  You will find that our physical therapists provide trauma informed care in a compassionate setting that is focused upon clinical excellence.  We are here to provide you world class pelvic health PT care in Grand Rapids.

Meet Dr. Katharine Cline, DPT Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

Dr. Katharine Cline, DPT practiced and managed a very busy clinic on the east side of the state, treating individuals across the lifespan, many of whom had very challenging conditions including complex chronic pelvic pain and pediatric related severe bladder and bowel problems.  Her leadership and clinical excellence allowed her to serve and manage a staff of other physical therapists.  We are fortunate that Dr. Cline has chosen to relocate back to her hometown. She is a Forest Hills graduate and has been eager to come back to Grand Rapids, but only if the right opportunity emerged that offered her a place to provide the high level of care she wants to give her patients.  Dr. Cline knew that Purple Mountain PT, with its strong focus on providing 1 on 1 treatment, appointments upto 55 minutes long and holistic methods would be an excellent fit for her clinical skills.  Dr. Katharine Cline, DPT, is both an adult and pediatric pelvic health specialist PT.  Dr. Cline has years of experience and post-doctoral education specifically related to the unique needs of pediatric pelvic health.  Additionally, she has always had an interest in neurologic conditions and has additional training specific to vestibular rehabilitation and also is LSVT-Big certified, a Parkinson disease treatment program that focuses upon movement deficiencies and enhancing function in individuals with Parkinson’s.  Her knowledge of how to optimize movement and the brain/bladder/pelvic floor function informs the care she is able to offer every patient she helps at our clinic.    She enjoys working with individuals across the lifespan, beginning with children who have complex constipation or bladder control problems and working with women and men who suffer from complex pelvic pain and bladder disorders.  She is so enthused about helping kids learn to control their bladder and bowel, she is a published author of a children’s potty training coloring book.  Her treatment for children optimizes bladder and bowel function to address overactive bladder, incontinence, constipation and pelvic floor dysfunction.  Dr. Katharine has pursued extensive post-doctoral training related to pelvic health, including offering her patients advanced hands-on and myofascial treatments that effectively address a person’s pain and bladder dysfunction.  In particular, her post-doctoral manual therapy training is unique and extensive; her patients can expect excellence in her evaluation and treatment methods.  Her patients commonly express their gratitude to Dr. Katharine, recognizing her exceptional insight into how to best treat their pelvic floor dysfunction and to do it in an uplifting and positive manner.

Meet Dr. Maureen O’Keefe, DPT Pelvic Health and TM Joint Disorder Physical Therapist

Dr. Maureen O’Keefe is a pelvic health & TM joint physical therapist specialist, serving the West Michigan region. Dr. Maureen O’Keefe, DPT practiced for 20 years in Chicago working with some of the top surgeons and physicians in the country at Northwestern Medicine Chicago, Loyola University Health Centers and Rush University Medical Center.  She had patients travel to her from all over the country and world, seeking relief from their pelvic pain and bladder conditions.  As the founder of Purple Mountain PT, Dr. Maureen opened this clinic to provide expert, one-on-one treatment to her patients by giving them the time needed (upto 55 minutes each appointment) to properly and holistically treat everything needed to get results for her patients.  She provides experienced, results-focused treatments to women, men & children who have pelvic floor dysfunction or TM joint disorders.   Dr. Maureen O’Keefe, DPT  is proud to be a member of numerous professional societies that are leading organizations in the field of pelvic health and pelvic research.  These include the  International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health and the Intl Society for Sexual Medicine, The North American Menopause Society and the American Physical Therapy Association.  Dr. Maureen O’Keefe, DPT has even taught physicians, surgeons and other pelvic health physical therapists techniques for evaluating and treating complex pelvic health conditions.  Dr. O’Keefe offers 20+ years experience that is a culmination of broad post-graduate pelvic health, sexual health and menopause related advanced education including osteoporosis rehabilitation and blood sugar dysregulation.  Her expertise in treating individuals with chronic TM joint disorders also provides relief from their headaches, neck and jaw pain and difficulty with chewing and yawning.  She enjoys working with individuals with challenging TM joint disorders or complex pelvic problems, including painful intercourse, pelvic floor dysfunction and chronic pelvic pain.  She has a special heart for women in the pregnant or postpartum recovery stages, as she loves those special times and understands the difficulty it can cause to a women’s body.  She herself had a traumatic birth injury and had to recover her body through extensive rehabilitation.  She creates a healing environment, in partnership with the patient, to optimize results and address all contributing factors in the pelvic condition. Dr. O’Keefe is committed to providing top level care to her patients and is actively engaged in ongoing advanced education to keep up with the latest research and methods.

How Do I Get Started with Pelvic Floor PT?  I Have Some More Questions.

The first step is to call our office to schedule an evaluation.  We like to understand what your needs are, so we can know that we can meet your needs.  Feel free to check out our FAQs page to learn more.  You can find it here.  We love this work and consider it a privilege and honor to help people in such a meaningful way! We look forward to meeting you and helping you to feel like yourself again.

Peace,

Dr. Mauree O’Keefe, DPT and the Purple Mountain PT Team.

How Do You Know if You Need Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Let’s clear up the mystery of knowing if you need pelvic floor physical therapy!

Quite often here is limited understanding of what the pelvic floor muscles do and whether these muscles might be a problem.   The pelvic floor muscles are located inside the bones of your pelvis and sit like a hammock inside you.  On top of this hammock you have all of your organs:  bladder, bowel, uterus/prostate.  These organs are supported by the muscles.  The muscles and the organs communicate with each other and work together as partners, so if you have problems in one area (such as your bladder control) you will have problem in the other area (the pelvic floor muscles).  Pelvic floor dysfunction presents itself as pain, bladder, bowel or intimacy problems.

This is a checklist of some common symptoms you may be experiencing that can indicate you have pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.

If you have any of these then you know you need pelvic floor physical therapy:

*Pelvic Pain:  Any pain from the abdomen/spine through the pelvis/groin.  This includes mid and lower back pain, SI joint pain, pubic bone pain, groin pain, tailbone pain, abdominal pain.

*Lower Back Pain: This pain gets its own bullet point because research has shown us that people with persistent lower back pain typically also have underlying pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.

*All bladder and bowel issues can also have an underlying problem with pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.  This could be fecal smearing, unexpected loss of gas, urinary incontinence, urinary urgency, painful urination, poor urinary stream, getting up at night to pee.

*Intimacy related struggles:  pain with penetration, pain with erection, pain after intimacy, poor intimacy response, inability to orgasm.

*Pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic heaviness, vaginal and pelvic pressure

*Pelvic muscle weakness, whether you can perceive it or not, is usually happening.  The muscles are commonly stiff, tight, have trigger points and operate slowly and deficiently.  Hence, the laundry list of symptoms here!  Kegels are often not the solution to the problem and, in fact, can make things worse.  So, seek expert care from a pelvic PT if you have any of these symptoms.

If you are interested to learn more about these muscles, here is a link to an article that briefly covers pelvic floor muscle anatomy.  https://www.continence.org.au/about-continence/continence-health/pelvic-floor

If you know you need pelvic floor physical therapy, what should you do?  Call us and we can help!

Well, we are here to help you!  We provide wholistic and comprehensive care to get you results!  Our compassionate, patient-centered treatment will identify underlying issues that are contributing to your problem and will treat each of these things.  This is key to your success!  By providing numerous assessment and treatment methods we can get your symptoms to improve.  We have a lot of techniques to help you improve such as:

  • Myofascial release
  • Trigger point release
  • Joint mobilization
  • Movement pattern restoration
  • Muscle firing and recruitment re-education
  • Strength and conditioning
  • Trigger point dry needling
  • Self-care education and modification of habits/behaviors that contribute to your symptoms
  • Instruction in optimizing nutritional healing to promote relief of symptoms
  • Postural correction and alignment

If you are pregnant or postpartum the pelvic floor muscles and the rest of your body change dramatically during this experience.  Unfortunately in our region of West Michigan pelvic floor physical therapy is not routinely suggested to a pregnant/postpartum person, even though we know that it helps improve how you feel!

At Purple Mountain Physical Therapy we provide a  comprehensive pelvic health physical therapy treatment program special for pregnant and postpartum women!  If you would like to read more about what we do, here is an article we wrote that details one of our postpartum patient’s experiences with us!

Purple Mountain Physical Therapy located in Grand Rapids, Michigan is a specialty pelvic health clinic that serves women and men who have any pelvic condition.  If you are still wondering “how do I know if I need pelvic floor PT?” then give us a call!  We offer a free phone consult to discuss your condition.  Call 616-516-4334 to schedule your free consult.  No problem is too simple or too difficult for us!  We commonly help people who have failed to get results from other interventions.  The men who come to us often have experienced years of pain and/or bladder & intimacy issues that have proven very frustrating, anxiety producing and depressing.  The women who come to us may also have pelvic pain or could be pregnant, struggling with postpartum recovery, have longstanding pelvic floor dysfunction that shows up as urinary incontinence, constipation, pelvic pressure, painful intimacy, “mommy tummy” or weakness in their back.  If any of these resonate with you, give us a call to schedule your free phone consult:  616-516-4334.

What’s holding you back from getting Pelvic Floor PT? All of your concerns addressed here!

We help women and men overcome their pelvic condition, naturally and wholistically, without pain medications, so that they can get back to an active life and have a smile on their face again!

You want results.  You feel uncertain about what pelvic floor PT is and, actually a little intimated by it.  You are also hesitant because your problem is personal and you don’t want to waste your time going to someone who doesn’t know how to help you.

This is your validation that you deserve to feel better and to get rid of your pelvic problem.  And that you have found the right place to receive your pelvic floor PT and help you!   What’s holding you back?

If your hesitation is that you don’t know where to go and who can help you.  Then. Stop. That. Excuse. Right. Here.  We offer expert pelvic floor PT treatments.

At Purple Mountain PT we specialize exclusively in providing wholistic, effective and expert care for pelvic floor PT. We treat all pelvic conditions that women and men experience.

When you choose Purple Mountain PT you are choosing to be proactive, to address your nagging problem and to get results.  You don’t want to waste your time, going to someone who doesn’t know how to help you.  We also understand you might feel nervous because your condition is in a private area and pelvic floor PT sounds a bit intimidating.  Rest assured, our patients tell us that their appointments are helpful, comfortable and educational, that they feel heard and understood.  In contrast to your fears and anxiety, we can assure you that your time with us will be uplifting, informative and encouraging!  Our pelvic floor PT is comprehensive, meaning a lot of our treatment occurs far away from the pelvis, such as at your shoulder blades or your thighs.  We also include lifestyle, exercise, nutrition, stress management and other wholistic interventions because these help you get results!

How can we say with confidence that we are the right choice for your pelvic floor PT?  Because our patients tell us that all the time.

If you give us a try, you will know within the first phone call if you think I may be able to help you. At your first visit you will receive an education and in-depth evaluation that is different from anything you have had with any other provider.  We’re not just making this up, our patients tell us this.  These are the types of things we hear from our patients:

I was hesitant to come to pelvic floor PT.  I didn’t know what to expect, now I wish I had come sooner because I could have felt better long ago!

I’ve gone to a chiropractor and pelvic PT for months and still have problems, I decided to try you because I like that you specialize in this.

I went to someone else, but they didn’t explain it like you.

You are my third PT and the first one to help me feel better.

My other provider never treated all the things you are treating.

At my other provider I felt like my appointments were too short to really treat everything I needed.

My other provider didn’t seem to know what my problem was and gave me a sheet of exercises to do that I knew wouldn’t help me.

I went somewhere else and they didn’t examine things nearly as in depth as you and didn’t ask me the questions you asked.  I can tell you know what you are doing here.

You get the idea.  I understand why you may be skeptical that pelvic floor PT could help you, especially if you’ve already gotten care that didn’t work.  But, many of our patients have been in your shoes and have found that by choosing Purple Mountain PT and getting wholistic and expert care, they finally feel hopeful and can see they will get better.

You will receive your pelvic floor PT care from someone who knows how to get you results!

Dr. O’Keefe has devoted her life and her curious mind to learning and treating pelvic floor conditions and all pelvic problems.  She has treated just about every pelvic condition you can imagine.  Pelvic floor PT is a path forward for you, proven in research to help you get better.  We have invested more than 2 decades into learning, studying, treating, teaching and post-graduate education focused on pelvic problems and wholisitic healing.  If you are wondering how qualified and what expertise Dr. O’Keefe has, here’s a glimpse:

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree with a capstone project on physical therapy indications in pregnancy, exercise in pregnancy and a focus on pelvic conditions
  • Masters of Physical Therapy Degree with a research project on the movement patterns of individuals with total knee replacement and a heavy focus on orthopedic injuries and clinical rotations working in busy orthopedic clinics.
  • Bachelors Degree, biology major and chemistry minor with research project on blood transfusion.
  • Division I volleyball player, athlete and exercise enthusiast.
  • Certification in dry needling.
  • Tons of post-graduate education taken all over the country specific to pelvic problems.  This includes:
  • Advanced training in pregnancy and postpartum recovery, diastasis recti, birth preparation, exercise in pregnancy, pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy and postpartum and more.
  • Advanced training specific to male pelvic health & pelvic floor dysfunction including prostate conditions, chronic prostatitis pain, post-prostatectomy recovery, male erectile dysfunction, male pelvic floor dysfunction, male pelvic pain, testicular pain, hernias and more!
  • Advanced training & treatments in all bladder conditions including overactive bladder, urinary frequency and urgency, urge incontinence, stress incontinence, nocturia (getting up at night to pee), urinary retention, neurogenic bladder, neobladder post-cancer.
  • Advanced training and treatments for interstitial cystitis.  In fact, the specific treatment methods we use were researched in a 6 clinic nationwide NIH study and because they worked, the guidelines for treating IC include this exact treatment you will receive!  Here is a link to the guidelines!
  • Advanced training and treatments for painful sex, vulvodynia, provoked vestibulodynia persistent genital arousal disorder, penile pain, anorgasmia and more!
  • Advanced training and treatments for all spine conditions.  Sub-specialty in spine problems including completing a post-graduate spine certification program that was one year in length.
  • Advanced training and treatments for all orthopedic pelvic problems including SI joint dysfunction, pubic pain, sports hernia, hip labral tears, sciatica, low back pain, neck and thoracic problems, hamstring pulls, coccyx pain and more!
  • Advanced training in pelvic floor dysfunction, core, diaphragmatic breathing and coordination of these muscles to control intra-abdominal pressure and optimize bladder control and reduce pelvic organ prolapse
  • Advanced training in pelvic organ prolapse, cystocele, urethrocele, hypermobile urethra, rectocele, rectal prolapse, uterine prolapse.
  • Advanced training and treatment methods for Pudendal neuralgia, sciatica, posterior femoral cutaneous nerve injuries, obturator nerve injuries and other pelvic nerve injuries.
  • Advanced training and treatments for myofascial mobilization and fascia release.
  • Advanced training and treatments for chronic pelvic pain, chronic pain syndromes, pain neuroscience education and overlapping pain conditions.
  • Advanced training and treatments for visceral mobilization.
  • Advanced training and work experience in busy orthopedic and rehabilitation clinics, including serving as the spine specialist for failed low back syndrome, working with athletes, treating individuals with spinal cord injury, neurologic conditions, post-stroke recovery, burns and complex trauma.

You don’t settle for anything in your life, why settle for pelvic problems, a less active life and less than high quality pelvic floor PT treatment?

Do you know there is treatment for:
**Stress incontinence: you don’t have to lose pee everytime you laugh!
**Urge incontinence: you don’t have to rush to the toilet and fear losing pee
**Urinary frequency: you don’t have a small bladder! You need treatment!
**Pelvic Organ Prolapse: this is a biggie! Ladies, if you have any prolapse you can optimize the pelvic region to provide better support to the area.
**SI Joint pain: This hurts! We know your pain and we can help it!
**Gluteal tendinopathy: Does your glute hurt? We can check you out and help you figure out why. If it is tendionpathy we have a treatment program for that! If it’s something else, we know what to do to help you!
**Pubic pain: This. Is. Frustrating. To. Have. & I can help you!
**Pudendal Neuralgia: The monster of pelvic pain. It can get better!
**Sciatica: ‘nuf said. It hurts. PT helps.
**Endometriosis: The long, painful, lonely road. PT helps endo pain!
**Interstitial Cystitis: Beastly bladder condition & I specialize in treating it!
**Recurrent urinary tract infections: You probably have pelvic floor dysfunction and we can get that better to reduce your risk of another infection
**Vulvodynia: Yep, we know you are suffering silently. We specialize in helping this. It’s awful & can get better!
**Painful sex: Sex shouldn’t hurt! There’s treatment for this!
**Painful cesarean scars or other scars: We can address this and get rid of that pain! Wouldn’t it be great if your clothing didn’t hurt your scar?
**Pelvic muscle spasms: Ouch. Yep, they feel just like you imagine. & I can help them go away.
**Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: All those muscles “down there” not quite working right? I can help that.
**Constipation & straining: Believe it or not, the pelvic muscles and involved in this problem and I can help you! Take care of it so you don’t give yourself a prolapse.
**Pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain: My specialty!!
**Postpartum recovery: Again, this is my jam! I love to help you get back to feeling strong and confident as you recover.
**Birth trauma injury: I have seen them all & I can help you!
**Chronic prostatitis pain: PT is the way out of this problem!
**Testicular, penile or vulvar pain: PT works! I can help you!
**Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder: This. Is. Awful. I know it and I can help you!

Purple Mountain Physical Therapy, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a specialty pelvic floor PT clinic.  We help women and men with pelvic floor dysfunction recover so they can live an active life! We have been exclusively focused on pelvic health for over 20 years and offer a level of expertise and wholistic care that you won’t find elsewhere! If you are wondering if we may be able to help you, call 616-516-4334 to talk to Dr. Maureen O’Keefe, DPT. We can discuss your symptoms and condition and determine if pelvic floor PT may help you!

Peace,

Dr. Maureen O’Keefe, DPT

How Do You Feel About Your Postpartum Recovery? Would Pelvic PT help you?

Being Pregnant and Postpartum can be an Overwhelming Experience and Definitely Changes Our Body! Pelvic Floor PT is a Key Component of Your Postpartum Recovery.

Each of us will experience our unique emotional reactions to the changes in our body!  You don’t have to know all the answers.  Expert help from a pelvic floor PT will take your postpartum recovery to the next level!

How do these changes in your postpartum body make you feel?  What do you think about your body now?  If you are struggling with disappointment in your pregnant or postpartum body, I can help you get back to feeling more like yourself when you join me to complete a postpartum PT recovery program.  Pregnancy and the postpartum period carry a risk of low back pain, pelvic girdle pain (such as SI joint pain, pubic bone pain, coccyx pain), painful sex, pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasis recti abdominus and urinary incontinence.  This is quite a long list, actually, of unfortunate things that you be experiencing as a result of being pregnant.  The good news is that working with me you will get a comprehensive evalution and treatment program to ensure you get your  body back into top form.  Pregnancy changes our posture, breathing, abdominal wall, pelvic floor, bladder, bowels and sex life.  I can help you recover all of these things!

What should your postpartum recovery program look like and include?  Pelvic floor PT help you get your body back and return to an active life!

  • Check you for a diastasis recti abdominus and develop a program of recovery from this
  • Evaluate and treat every muscle of your pelvic floor to determine how each one is working and to get each one to come back to function.
  • Teach you how to recover optimal breathing function, which was disrupted when you were pregnant and the baby moved your diaphragm.  Recovering breathing is crucial to recovering your pelvic floor function.
  • Take you through a progressive exercise program to restore your pelvic floor strength, coordination, function and speed.
  • Address your posture, especially increased midback hunch, tight shoulders, forward head and tilted pelvis.  Pregnancy changes your fascia and postural alignment and we look at this and help you correct it.
  • Optimize your pelvic organ suppport, a very important part of addressing pelvic organ prolapse
  • Strengthen your back and abdominals so you can confidently lift your baby and everything else you need to lift.
  • Get you back to higher level activities including jumping, skipping and running.

Research confirms that exercise and hands-on care for pregnant women can help their low back pain

Exercise (any exercise on land or in water), may reduce pregnancy‐related low‐back pain and any exercise improves functional disability and reduces sick leave more than usual prenatal care. Evidence from single studies suggests that acupuncture or craniosacral therapy improves pregnancy‐related pelvic pain, and osteomanipulative therapy or a multi‐modal intervention (manual therapy, exercise and education) may also be of benefit.

https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001139.pub4/full#:~:text=minor%20and%20transient.-,Authors’%20conclusions,more%20than%20usual%20prenatal%20care.

Pregnancies and a live baby were hard to come by in my experience.

I was one of the healthiest people I knew.  I was fit and active.  I was a physical therapist and knew how to help women through their pregnancy.  I had a regular cycle and zero clue that becoming a mother would take years of tears, pregnancy losses, hopelessness and digging in.  I had to discover wholistic ways to facilitate fertility, I had to work on stress/mind/body/spirit.  I had to call on my faith to get us through this.  I did just about everything under the sun to facilitate becoming a mother.  If you have experienced infertility you know what I’m talking about.  Yep, I did everything.  Everything.

My postpartum experience wasn’t so peachy, either.  I had to do extensive pelvic floor PT, abdominal wall recovery and rebuilding my strength and conditioning.

In my first 30 days postpartum I had emergency surgeries and spent ten hellish days in the hospital.  My family was amazing and scared to death for me.  It is not an exaggeration to say it looked like I wasn’t going to make it.  The will got drawn up in the hospital bed and the priest came.  It was a serious and dangerous and God-awful experience.  I had two kids under two years old who were not allowed at the hospital.  My family and friends were amazing and provided around the clock care for our kids, with my husband shuttling between the hospital and the two locations where our kids were staying.  My family wanted to touch base with me or my husband each hour to see how I was doing, because it seemed to change rapidly and would go downhill fast.  We were desperate to get me stable, but the roller coaster had begun and it was decidedly out of control.  And, remember, I was one of the healthiest people I knew!  I was an athlete, super healthy eater, had come to pregnancy after completing years of wholistic healing.  And. Still. It. All. Went. Wrong.  Until it went right!  Yay!  Eventually I stabilized and got to go home, exhausted and uncertain if I would be able to take care of our two kids.  And my body was a wreck.  My pelvic floor was a disaster (so many surgeries and my labor and delivery had done a number on me), my abdominal wall had a huge diastasis recti abdominus, all of my body muscles had atrophied.  I remember looking at my calves when I was in the hospital and shedding a tear at how atrophied they became.  It happened so quickly, over a matter of two weeks.  My OBGyne  said “well, you’ve lost all of your pregnancy weight and then some.”  And I remember replying “It is all atrophy.  I will weight lift and get it back.”  And I did.  It took a long time & a lot of discipline to recover my abdominal wall and pelvic floor and to get strong again.  But I did it, with the help of pelvic PT and my clinical background in how to take a woman through a safe and progressive postpartum recovery program.

Now you know a bit about how I got to be the person I am today.   I have been through an epic pregnancy and postpartum recovery and found a path forward that is authentically grateful, happy, strong and whole!  And I offer this wisdom and understanding to my patients.  I know  my patient’s pregnancy and postpartum experiences feel like a huge challenge to them.  May feel overwhelming.  May feel hopeless, like you are stuck with urinary incontinence or a “mommy pooch.”  I am proof positive that this is not the case.

Working with individuals who are experiencing pregnancy or are postpartum is a calling for me!  I love it!

I offer these women an insight, grace, clinical expertise, understanding and joyfulness for their pregnancy.  I had to complete intensive postpartum PT recovery.  Because of the nature of my labor and delivery and postpartum complications I had serious work to do to recover my pelvic floor, abdominal wall, strength, conditioning and function.  I did the hard work.  And, I know the commitment it takes to reach your goals.  It doesn’t happen overnight and it takes real insight and expertise to provide postpartum pelvic health physical therapy to a woman.  It is an honor to work with women who are pregnant and postpartum.

I have advanced training in providing pregnant and postpartum women pelvic floor PT and designing a postpartum recovery fitness program.

And my training dates back to the 1990s!  So, I’ve been studying and treating pregnancy and postpartum recovery for more than 2 decades!  Many pregnant women come to me experiencing miserable pelvic pain.  It might be their SI joint hurts, or their pubic bones are grinding everytime they move their leg, or they cannot roll in bed without back pain.  Or it might be that they are experiencing urinary incontinence or pelvic floor muscle spasms or a diastasis recti.  I can help all of these conditions!  How lucky am I?  It is truly an honor to help women during their pregnancy and postpartum periods.

I offer compassionate, patient-focused wholistic treatment for people who are suffering from pelvic conditions!  Are you interested in addressing your postpartum recovery?  Call Today for Information on our Program.

Continue reading

SI Joint Treatment in Grand Rapids

Do You Need Expert SI Joint Treatment in Grand Rapids?  Are you looking for more than run-of-the-mill care that doesn’t work?

We offer comprehensive SI joint treatment right here in Grand Rapids, so you can finally feel better again.

We offer expert care to evaluate and treat your SI joint and pelvic condition.

At Purple Mountain Physical Therapy we have more than 20 years’ experience helping people overcome SIJ problems.  We treat individuals with SI joint issues who often have already been to other providers and still hurt.  Many of our patients are pregnant and worried that they may not be able to walk or function in their third trimester.  Give us a call if you know you need high quality care!

You Need Comprehensive SI Joint and Pelvic Care that Includes Evaluation and Treatment of Your Pelvic Floor Muscles

Did you know that your piriformis muscle, which many people who have SI Joint problems are familiar with, is part of your pelvic floor?  There are additional pelvic floor muscles, also, that influence your SI joint.  That’s why our treatment program will check these muscles for you and determine if they are problematic. We find that SI joint problems rarely are happening in isolation.  Some people with SI joint dysfunction also experience hip pain or bladder control problems. We’ve found some of our patients also have gluteal tendinopathy, a separate tendinitis condition, going on at the same time as SI joint dysfunction. We will figure this out with you and develop a customized treatment program for you.

We Provide You A Detailed & Comprehensive Evaluation and Treatment Plan That is Probably Different than You’ve Had Before!

SI joint pain can be debilitating and we offer a comprehensive treatment program that helps move you forward.  Your SI joint problem is in your pelvis, which is our expertise! Our comprehensive care includes assessment and treatment of the SI joint, hips, pubic bones, low back and all associated muscles, nerves, tendons and ligaments, including the pelvic floor muscles.  Pregnant women, we’ve got you covered!  We know how to help you navigate SI joint dysfunction, pelvic girdle pain and low back pain.

The Importance of a Proper SI Joint Evaluation

Research and years of experience have taught us that there are specific tests and measures that need to be done to evaluate an individual with SI joint dysfunction.  We will evaluate your joints and your muscles, as well as your ligaments, fascia and nerves.   We look at your posture and alignment, from your feet to your knees and hips upto your shoulders and neck.

Your muscle spasms, tightness and misalignment will improve

By providing a combination of specific, graduated exercises and advanced manual therapy methods to optimize alignment, reduce trigger points and muscle guarding we help you feel better.  We don’t just tell you to stretch it out!  In fact, many of our patients have been told to stretch their problem, which can aggravate an SI joint condition when not done carefully.  By restoring your boney alignment, using methods that balance your pelvis and SI joint, you will feel things are in place again!  Addressing underlying pelvic floor muscular problems is sadly often overlooked, but is necessary to recover from SI joint dysfunction. A typical patient with SI Joint Dysfunction comes to us with a considerable amount of pelvic floor dysfunction.  Once we treat these muscles, in conjunction with everything else provided, the condition will begin to heal.

For more information on SIJ physical therapy, here is an article that may be of interest https://www.choosept.com/symptomsconditionsdetail/physical-therapy-guide-to-sacroiliac-joint-dysfunction

If you are suffering from SIJ syndrome and are frustrated with lack of progress, come give us a try.  We want to make sure we are a good fit for you, so call us at 616-516-4334 to get your questions answered.  We promise to give you expert, compassionate care that is designed to help you feel better!

Peace,

Dr. Maureen O’Keefe, DPT

Get Your Annual Pelvic Floor Wellness Checkup!

Would I benefit from an Annual Pelvic Floor Wellness Checkup? 

Calling all women and men!

  • It is common for our pelvic floor muscles to not be working correctly (pelvic floor dysfunction). An annual pelvic floor wellness checkup will screen you for this issue.
  • Do you wonder if your spine, hip and pelvic joints and muscles and bladder/bowel function are optimal?
  • Do you have a family history of pelvic conditions and want to be proactive about your health?
  • Did pregnancy change your body in ways you never imagined and now you wonder if things are working right?
  • Did you previously have some pelvic pain or urinary incontinence and you are uncertain if things are working top notch?
  • Did your dad have prostate or bladder problems and you want to do everything you can to avoid the same thing?
  • Are you wondering if the exercises you are doing are bad for you, might cause an injury or could cause a pelvic organ prolapse?

At Purple Mountain PT we offer Annual Pelvic Floor Wellness Checkups.  Why do we offer this? 

We are all familiar with scheduling a checkup with our family doctor, OBGyne or dentist.  But, none of these providers are specialists in the musculoskeletal system, which includes your bones, muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons. And, thus, these things don’t get a proper checkup.

Pelvic Health Physical Therapists are musculoskeletal experts of your pelvis!  None of your other providers examines what we assess in our annual pelvic floor wellness checkup. 

Your musculoskeletal system, and keeping it strong, flexible and healthy, is the specialty of all physical therapists.  We have doctoral level degrees in the musculoskeletal system.  This is our jam! We are nerds in this department.  Pelvic health physical therapists take this up a notch and zero-in on the musculoskeletal system of the spine and pelvis.   The pelvic system that we specialize in helps to:

  • Maintain urinary control
  • Get your bowel movements out!
  • Maintain pelvic organ support
  • Provide for circulation in the pelvic region
  • Keep you sexually healthy and functioning properly.

The importance of the pelvic system cannot be overstated!  With so many important things going on in the pelvis, an annual pelvic floor wellness checkup with an expert pelvic physical therapist can catch early problems before they become big issues.

What if you don’t exactly have a pelvic condition that needs treatment, but you have some questions or concerns and want an expert assessment?

This annual checkup is for you!  Our pelvic health wellness checkup program was developed because patients asked us for this!  If you’ve been on our website you’ve seen that we offer pelvic floor specialty physical therapy care to treat individuals with bladder, bowel, pelvic pain and sexual conditions.   Over the years we have heard MANY times from patients (both men and women!) that they wished they had gotten looked at years before meeting us with their condition.  These are the things we’ve heard:

I wish I had known about you years ago because I think I have had pelvic floor problems going back decades.

Can my daughter come and get checked by you just to see if she is ok down there?

My best friend and I have commiserated that we both have had urinary incontinence since having our kids, but she doesn’t know where to go to get checked.

So, ask and you shall receive!   We offer an annual pelvic floor wellness checkup program just for you!  If you would like to read some additional material regarding the importance of pelvic health physical therapy, here’s one resource.  https://academic.oup.com/ptj/article/97/4/390/3813533

Who is this Annual Physical Therapy Checkup for?

This is for all women and men who want to be proactive about their pelvic health, want to avoid bladder, bowel and sexual pain problems and want to keep their pelvic floor, core, spine and hips in tip-top working order.  If you have a suspicion that things might not be working right, either in your abdominal muscles, your back, hips or pelvic region, then this is for you!

Every person on this planet has pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are crucial to your quality of life because if they aren’t working optimally you can have urinary or bowel incontinence, overactive bladder, waking up at night repeatedly to urinate, pain with intimacy, trouble with arousal, back pain, hip pain, SI joint pain, tailbone pain and many other problems.

What does a pelvic floor wellness checkup involve?

This is an annual check up of your strength, conditioning, flexibility, posture, coordination of your core muscles, your abdominal wall integrity and function, low back, hip, pelvic muscles and joints.

  • We will talk to you to determine any concerns you may have and answer all of your questions. Patients tell us this education is perhaps the most valuable part of seeing us.  It is common for us to hear “I had no idea that I was doing this wrong all these years.”
  • We will establish your baseline at present, so you know where you are starting and we can compare this year over year to make sure you are staying strong, flexible and healthy.
  • Correcting issues early on is always easier than waiting until symptoms worsen.
  • We want to learn about your history and any risk factors that you may have for pelvic floor dysfunction. For example, often I hear from women that their mom had a prolapse and they don’t want to get one, what can they do to prevent one.  Or, I hear from men that their dad always had back pain and then developed prostate problems and they want to be proactive about their health.  I also hear from people that they’ve “always had a small bladder” or that in high school they “always leaked urine when playing” their sport.
  • Our pelvic floor wellness checkup is particularly important for individuals who have a prior history pelvic pain or incontinence, even if you are currently not experiencing symptoms.
  • For women we cover pregnancy and postpartum considerations. For men we cover prostate considerations
  • We will conduct a thorough wellness screen of your abdominal, pelvic, low back and hip control, strength, flexibility and asymmetries.
  • We will review your exercise routine and provide you with exercise and behavioral suggestions for keeping your core and pelvic floor strong and healthy.

Still not sure if you would benefit from a pelvic floor wellness checkup?  No problem, we love to talk to you and answer your questions beforehand to determine if we are a good fit for you.  Call us with your questions or to schedule An Annual Physical Therapy Wellness Check Up with Your Pelvic Physical Therapist today contacting us at  616-516-4334.

Peace,

Dr. Maureen O’Keefe Continue reading

Pelvic Pain PT in Grand Rapids

We provide quality and effective pelvic pain PT in Grand Rapids!

End your suffering!  Get answers today!  You have found the right place!

Not all pelvic pain physical therapy is the same.  You are not a run of the mill person and your condition is not run of the mill.   If you have pelvic pain and you want to end your suffering, you need results and expertise!  That’s what we offer.

What sets Purple Mountain Physical Therapy apart when we treat pelvic pain? 

We care about you in exceptional ways!  From the first moment when you meet us, you will feel the difference!  We offer the opportunity to discuss your condition with our staff, often with our physical therapist, before you come to an appointment.  Our pledge is that from day one you will feel supported, acknowledged and confident that you are in expert hands!  We take care of you and you will feel this care. Our pelvic pain PT in Grand Rapids is a comprehensive program that is focused on helping you to feel better!

We understand pelvic pain!  We have studied it for over 20 years.  We have traveled around the country to attend professional conferences specific to healing pelvic pain.  We have completed extensive and continuous education in pelvic pain physical therapy techniques, pelvic pain rehabilitation, chronic pelvic pain, myofascial pain syndrome, pelvic floor dysfunction, endometriosis, chronic prostatitis, interstitial cystitis, Pudendal neuralgia, trigger point pain, pain neuroscience and more.  This is so we can offer you the best!  Ever feel like your provider has never seen your problem before?  That will not be the case when you are treated by us.

Your evaluation will be more comprehensive than you ever could have imagined!  We conduct an evaluation that is unlike anything you’ve had before.  We use our clinical expertise to pinpoint what we need to assess.  We will assess your many nerves, muscles, joints, organs, blood vessels, skin and fascia so that we know exactly what needs to be treated.   If you need pelvic pain PT in Grand Rapids, you can count on receiving comprehensive and quality care at Purple Mountain Physical Therapy.  Contact us to learn more.

We ask you what your goals are, and our treatment focuses on you achieving them! You are here to get better!  We want your future life to be painfree, active and achieving all of your goals. Goal setting is an important part of recovery from chronic pain and we will design your treatment program to allow you to achieve your goals.  Our plan of care teaches you self-care, exercise, behavioral changes and other important things you can do to feel better.  To learn more about goal setting and self-care, here’s a good resource:

https://painguide.com/pain-care/

We educate you about your condition and what you can do to feel better!  We have devoted our career to learning how to treat chronic pelvic pain.  When we work with you, we are educating you on what we are finding, why this is a problem, what we see has changed from the last visit and where we expect you to be heading going forward.  Our knowledge is based in clinical expertise and in having treated people just like you for over 20 years.  We are like a trusted guide who can help you get to your destination.  Our patients tell us this, alone, helps decrease their anxiety around their uncontrolled pain.

In our next article we will discuss some of the features of our pelvic pain physical therapy program so you can learn more about what sets our approach apart from the rest!

To learn more about our pelvic pain PT in Grand Rapids, call us at 616-516-4334.  We would be happy to answer your questions and determine if we are a good fit to help you end your suffering.

Peace,

Dr. Maureen O’Keefe, DPT  Doctor of Physical Therapy specializing in pelvic health.

Contact us