Ask a PT: What does ‘Women’s Health’ mean within Physical Therapy?

Ask a PT: What does ‘Women’s Health’ mean within Physical Therapy?

Featured Physical Therapist
Bethany Tabieros, DPT

Q: “What does ‘Women’s Health’ mean within the field of Physical Therapy?” 

A: “Most women can attest that we are just built differently than men. From differences in hormones to the unique stresses from pregnancy, our bodies go through a lot in a lifetime. Women’s health is health care through the lens of specially trained medical professionals who understand how women’s bodies work differently.

Women’s health physical therapists evaluate and treat the musculoskeletal disorders that may occur to women throughout their lifespan, with specialized understanding of the physiological differences and the impact of hormones on their condition and recovery. The health concerns of women are as varied as the women themselves and can include everyone from young athletes to postmenopausal women.

For example, young female athletes are prone to back, knee, and foot pain that may limit their performance. Research has shown that knee and foot pain can be caused by back dysfunction, and a women’s health therapist understands how to look for these problems and address them to allow faster recovery and return to sport.

Pregnancy and delivery places an enormous strain on a woman’s body. There is strong research showing that skilled physical therapy can significantly reduce pregnancy-related back and pelvic pain and improve quality of life. Difficult deliveries may result in pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, or incontinence. Physical therapy can improve the stability of the pelvis to eliminate pain and incontinence, often preventing the need for surgery or medication.

Pelvic floor dysfunction, including pain and incontinence, can affect women of all ages. Studies show that young women involved in high impact sports such as gymnastics are at high risk for experiencing urinary incontinence during their sport. Even in the CrossFit world, urinary incontinence is a well-known problem during high intensity workouts. Other women may experience incontinence as a result of childbirth, hormonal changes, or surgery. Pelvic pain is a common and under-diagnosed problem in women of all ages. A women’s health therapist is trained to identify the contributing musculoskeletal factors in order to address the underlying causes to their pain and restore wellness.

Women’s health therapists may use a variety of research based treatment options including manual therapy, exercise prescription, biofeedback, and neuromuscular reeducation to restore normal joint mobility, improve muscular balance and control and teach improved movement patterns. An emphasis is always on teaching the patient how to help themselves and prevent new injury or problems.

The health concerns of women and the ways that physical therapy can help are almost too varied to list here. We teach osteoporotic women how to improve their bone density naturally. We help young women with scoliosis eliminate pain and improve control over their spine. We enable the woman who underwent breast cancer surgery to restore shoulder mobility and regain her energy.

Overall, women’s health physical therapists empower women to understand how their bodies work and take charge of their wellness.”

Ask a PT is a monthly blog feature where physical therapists at PT Solutions Physical Therapy give their professional input on a popular patient question. Do you have a question that you’d like answered? Leave us a comment below!


About the PT 

Bethany Tabieros graduated from Marquette University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Science and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. With over eight years of experience, she enjoys treating patients of all backgrounds and diagnoses with an orthopedic and manual therapy focus. She specializes in pelvic floor rehabilitation with a specific interest in managing women’s health issues but enjoys working with men as well. She believes the best treatment has to look at the patient as a whole and address all related concerns, recognizing that not all problems begin and end in the pelvic floor. She enjoys working with specialists to create a team approach to help her patients.