Women’s health is much more than just treating lady parts or pelvic floor complications. Physical therapist address women’s health conditions from infancy through geriatric years focusing on specific women’s health needs.
Clarifying Women’s Health:
I have provided women’s health care for years and find many people including women are confused about women’s health care. The definition of women’s health is providing specific care during the entire life cycle for women’s issues including: incontinence, pelvic dysfunction, osteoporosis, breast cancer, lymphedema, fibromyalgia and other diseases that differ for women than men (Wojciechowski, 2009).
Kristie C. is a patient of mine and is an avid female runner that I admire and appreciate. Kristie has ran 9 marathons all over the world including Ethiopia in 2015. She suffered a right knee injury requiring meniscal repair with osteoarthritis debridement. As a result of her injury and lack of post-op rehabilitation she gained 60 lbs and began suffering additional complications of depression, anxiety and chronic pain. As a women’s health therapist I was able to treat Kristie’s knee, but also considered her complete lifestyle and surpass traditional knee rehabilitation to meet her goals of resuming running. Meeting Kristie’s running goals resolved her depression, anxiety, weight gain and chronic pain. Returning women or any patient to their previous lifestyle or passion, like running marathons is a true blessing.
Another example of women’s health is a patient of mine that was diagnosed with breast cancer resulting in several lymph node removal with lumpectomy. As a result of lymph node removal she suffered with lymphedema in her arm making her job as a hairstylist and being a grandmother difficult. Treating her lymphedema, shoulder range of motion and shoulder strength allowed her to return to full function using her arm as a hairstylist and playing with her grandson again.
Many times women’s health focuses on women during menopause, for things like urinary incontinence and constipation or in younger women with diagnoses of pelvic pain and / or sexual dysfunction (Wojciechowski, 2009). However, pelvic floor diagnoses are not the only conditions women are affected with more than men. Women also are more often diagnosed with rotator cuff tears, shoulder impingement, shoulder adhesive capsulitis, carpel tunnel, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and lupus (Wojciechowski, 2009). All injuries and diseases affect women differently than men and physical therapist should be aware of the differences even if they don’t treat gynecological and obstetric care (Wojciechowski, 2009). Not only do women recover and heal differently than men they also have heart disease signs and symptoms differently (Wojciechowski, 2009). For example, women usually complain of difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, back pain, shoulder pain and jaw pain (Medline, 2014).
In conclusion, treating the pelvic floor is a huge part of women’s health physical therapy for condition such as post-surgical complication after c-section, episiotomy, hysterectomy, sexual dysfunction, bowel and bladder disorders. In addition, women’s health physical therapy is treating all women’s health conditions throughout their life cycle for their specific needs and differences.
Sherri Boos, PT, DPT
Wojciechowski, M. (2009). Women’s Health: It’s More Than You May Realize. PT in Motion 7. Retrieved from http://www.apta.org/PTinMotion/2009/11/Feature/WomensHealth
Women’s Heart Disease: Heart Disease Risk Factors. (2014). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/…/winter14/articles/winter14pg26-27.html