Did you know that your ankle bone isn’t just connected to your leg bone? It also plays a role in connection to your pelvic floor muscles (PFM). However, while the ankle bones aren’t directly connected to the pelvic floor, it does influence the function of the pelvic floor muscles.
In our blog, we’ll explore how your ankle and surrounding nerves affect your pelvic floor muscles and how nerve therapy can help alleviate symptoms of pelvic floor disorders.
How do pelvic floor muscles connect to your nerves?
Incontinence affects roughly 15 million adult women every year. Many believe that urinary incontinence is just a fact of getting older, but that’s far from the case. Incontinence at any age is not normal.
Typically, incontinence can be attributed to the weakening or overactivity of the pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles rest in the bowl-shaped pelvis which provides support to your pelvic organs such as the bladder, uterus, vagina, small bowel, and rectum.
However, much like the rest of the muscles in your body, they are supplied by nerves, and your nerves run from your pelvis to your feet.
If your nerves become restricted or compressed, the muscles that your nerves supply can become underactive or overactive, leading to pelvic floor disorders such as stress urinary incontinence (SUI) or overactive bladder (OAB).
About your nervous system
Think of your nervous system as a tree. Similar to the roots of a tree, nerves grow and connect. For females, the pelvic region is supplied with three nervous systems: parasympathetic, sympathetic, and somatic.
The parasympathetic system is the pelvic nerve that activates the muscles of the bladder and supplies the urethral mechanism for voiding (urinating).
The sympathetic system inhibits the bladder and activates the urethra to favor the storage of urine.
The somatic system regulates the urethra and function of the pelvic floor muscles.
What else is connected to the pelvic floor?
The ankle isn’t the only thing connected to the pelvic floor muscles in your body. Many other factors can affect your pelvic floor strength.
Here are four other areas that are connected to the muscles in your pelvic floor:
- Reduced mobility in the upper back and neck
- Poor posture
- Increased tension in the jaw
- A change in your gait (the way you walk)
If you can change some of these additional factors through physical therapy, you may be able to improve your pelvic pain. While not all treatments like changing your posture or gait will relieve your symptoms, there are alternative physical therapies such as acupuncture and percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) that may help.
Can you treat PFD symptoms with your nerves?
The answer is yes! Acupuncture and percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation are two ways providers can stimulate the nervous system to reduce discomfort and improve symptoms of pelvic floor disorders.
Additionally, acupuncture is an alternative physical therapy that uses small needles at different points and depths on the body to help relieve pain and tension.
Typically used in traditional Chinese medicine, some Western providers use acupuncture to stimulate the nervous system, muscles, and connective tissues of the body to improve overall wellness, stress management, and even pelvic floor symptoms.
Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation
Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation is a treatment for overactive bladder for those whose symptoms haven’t improved from lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, reducing fluid intake, limiting foods and beverages which irritate your bladder, and ceasing smoking.
PTNS stimulates the sacral nerve through the tibial nerve located near the ankle bone. To complete this treatment, a small needle is inserted into the tibial nerve. The needle is connected to a stimulator that sends electrical pulses to the sacral nerve which is located on the lower back, above the tailbone.
By stimulating these nerves, providers can help regulate the pelvic floor muscles which control the pelvic floor’s function and, subsequently, the bladder’s response.
Providers will administer the PTNS treatment over a series of 12 weekly, 30-minute sessions. Almost 80% of patients respond well to treatment by seeing overactive bladder symptoms improve within 4-8 sessions.
Visit Metro OBGYN for PFD treatment
If you’re experiencing pelvic floor disorders such as an overactive bladder or stress urinary incontinence, consult with a provider at Metro OBGYN about your treatment options and schedule an appointment today.
We’re prepared to help find the right solution for your symptoms, and you don’t have to struggle with your pelvic floor issues alone. Learn how to take back control of your bladder problems with our helpful eBook: Take Control of Urinary Incontinence.