It's hard to imagine your GI and your tailbone having anything in common, but they certainly do.
What is it?
It's your pelvic floor of course!
Your GI empties out at your anal sphincter, which is located right in front of your tailbone. Your tailbone harbors the connection points for many pelvic floor muscle that also control your anal sphincter.
So, it's no surprise that an injury to the tailbone can result in GI dysfunction. This can also work visa versa, as chronic straining on the toilet can affect the pelvic floor muscles, which then pull on the tailbone creating pain and discomfort.
The GI and Your Pelvic Floor
Pelvic floor physical therapists often treat GI issues. This is because the pelvic floor is responsible for relaxing in order to allow stool to pass, as well as contract in order to prevent leakage of stool.
Problems with a tense and tight pelvic floor can lead to
Pain with bowel movements
Constipation and bloating
Patient with these issues tend to get passed around in the medical community until hopefully landing in a pelvic floor physical therapists office.
From there, we will assess the pelvic floor tone and mechanics for emptying. This is often done from the perspective of a rectal exam.
If the idea of a rectal exam is terrifying, know that you're not alone! But most of the time its people that know they have a tense and tight pelvic floor that are the most afraid.
Your pelvic floor physical therapist will walk you through the process when you feel ready. You never have to do anything you don't want to., but a rectal exam is the most specific way for your pelvic floor physical therapist to gather information about your GI dysfunction.
Your Tailbone and Your Pelvic Floor
Many muscles attach to the tailbone, including the pelvic floor. Your tailbone is a very important structure that can become compromised after a fall or during childbirth.
You can also develop tailbone pain without having a specific tailbone injury!
This is because the tissues associated with the tailbone can get injured in other ways, such as straining on the toilet repeatedly.
Chronic constipation can result in tight or injured pelvic floor muscles, which attach to the tailbone. These in turn can become even more tight and injured, creating even more dysfunction.
It's a viscous cycle that requires a pelvic floor specialist to assist in intervention.
Your session with your pelvic floor physical therapist will probably involve a rectal exam for this issue when you are ready.
Your therapist can access your tailbone rectally and palpate for painful and dysfunctional muscles that could be contributing to your pain.
Your therapist will also be able to assess posture and activation of larger muscles that may be involved, such as your glutes, to really get down to the "why" of your issue.
The pelvic floor is related to so many issues mamas can face during pregnancy and postpartum. Rectal exams are a valuable tool for pelvic floor physical therapists to use to help assess the health of the pelvic floor and the tissues surrounding the tailbone.
We are the only providers who are able to do this for our clients. If you are experiencing any of the issues listed above, I am here to help. Contact me today to book a session.
If you're not in the Albuquerque area, you can still work with me! Reach out to learn more about booking a remote consult.