Can I see a pelvic floor physiotherapist for shoulder pain?
One of the most common questions we are asked is if we treat other parts of the body outside of
the pelvic floor?
The answer is Yes.
We are orthopaedic physiotherapists first, meaning we are trained to assess and treat muscles, bones, joints, nerves and connective tissues of the entire body. As pelvic floor physiotherapists we simply have specialized training pertaining to the muscles and structures of the pelvis and how to treat some of the more specific concerns that arise in this area including incontinence, pelvic pain, prolapse and more.
It is important to note that the pelvic floor is connected to the whole body through its attachments to the pelvis, as well as connecting above to the abdominal and back muscles, ribcage, and via fascial connections to the shoulders, neck and head.
Below, the pelvis has numerous neuromuscular and fascial connections which influence the front and back of the legs all the way down to the toes. Further, our pelvic floor is part of our central stability system, or anticipatory core, and so can have significant impact on not only the connections but also the control of our movements which can either help or hinder our recovery.
What this means is the foot can influence the pelvis from below and alternatively, the ribcage or even neck can influence the pelvis from above. And looking at you holistically, we can understand how a symptomatic area (i.e. shoulder, back, etc. pain) may be influenced by another area of the body.
So how does this relate to injuries or complaints outside the pelvis or pelvic floor? Just as the foot or the thorax can influence the pelvis, the pelvis can influence the foot or thorax (or just about any other place in the body). An integrative pelvic floor physiotherapist has the training and skills necessary to use applied pelvic health to ensure your whole body is assessed accurately to get to the root cause of your complaint.
This does not mean you will have an internal evaluation when you come in for your shoulder pain. It simply means we can use our knowledge, experience and unique skills to evaluate and treat the interconnections of your pain
Bottom line, if you are seeing someone for your shoulder pain and you are achieving your desired outcome from the treatment then continue seeing that practitioner. However, if you are seeing someone for shoulder pain that is not progressing as you or the therapist expects, there might be an underlying issue that is connecting to your deeper structures that could benefit from a closer and more integrative look by a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
Take home message: Our body is a complete (and sometimes complex) interconnected system from head to toe and all of our physiotherapists are trained to treat the whole system.
Regardless of what your injury or concern is, we will always look at you as a person and treat your whole body and not just your body part.
Co Written by Andrea Plitz, Physiotherapist and Yoga Teacher. Andrea has a clinical focus in women’s health including applied pelvic health, complex orthopedics and concussion rehab. She currently lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Disclaimer – Everything shared is for informative purposes only. It is not intended for assessment, diagnosis or treatment purposes. If you feel there needs to be further investigation, please seek out a qualified health care professional for a proper assessment.