Biofeedback is a useful tool in pelvic floor rehabilitation that can be used for both strengthening weak pelvic floor muscles (“Kegels”) as well as relaxing tight pelvic floor muscles. When used as a training technique, biofeedback enables an individual to gain some element of voluntary control over muscular or autonomic nervous system functions using a device that produces auditory or visual stimuli.
The pelvic floor muscles are like any other muscle in the body. As a group of muscles, they need to be able to contract and relax to maximally function for bowel, bladder and sexual function. Most commonly, Kegels are what come to mind, when talking about strengthening the pelvic floor for common conditions such as incontinence or support of organ prolapse. Studies show that 70% of individuals perform Kegels incorrectly, which can affect improvements in strength of the muscle or even make certain pelvic conditions worse. Biofeedback is an excellent tool for visual feedback to ensure proper performance of these exercises.
For some pelvic conditions such as constipation and pelvic pain, Kegels are not appropriate or are not the first treatment option. Often with these conditions, the individual needs to learn to relax the pelvic floor muscles. Using biofeedback, individuals can learn strategies from the therapist as well as visual feedback to help with pelvic floor relaxation.
Your therapist will determine if and when biofeedback is an appropriate treatment technique during your plan of care.