We humans can be a curious species. Considering the vast number of anatomical similarities we hold and the myriad health problems we can have in common, most people are surprisingly hesitant to discuss physical issues, even with loved ones.
Some health problems are commonly thought of as particularly embarrassing—issues like bladder, bowel, or sexual dysfunction, for instance. But if health issues such as these are kept to oneself they can remain undiagnosed and, worse still, untreated.
Therapists at HOPE Center for Pain in Bloomington not only know how hesitant people can be to discuss these health problems they know how to treat those problems in the safest, most natural ways possible.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Before earning her masters degree in physical therapy from the University of Miami, HOPE Center for Pain’s founder, Leann Croft, desperately wanted to return to her home state of Illinois for her first clinical rotation. Of her two choices closest to home, one clinic in Chicago focused on women’s health, so Leann was set on her path.
“It was a Godsend!” she declares. “It put me in the position to learn pelvic floor physical therapy from the ‘pope’ of my field of therapy, Rhonda Kotarinos. I went on to take many courses and spent a lot of time with other therapists she trained. Right after graduation from UM with my MSPT degree, I started working in Chicago doing pelvic floor physical therapy fulltime. We exclusively treated pelvic related dysfunction.”
Pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) is a term used to describe when pelvic muscles and ligaments do not work as they should, resulting in an inability to have a proper bowel movement, urinary leakage, pain during or after sexual intercourse, and more.
While PFD affects mostly women, it’s estimated 16 percent of men are also affected. Besides experiencing some issues similar to those of women, men with PFD may also experience erectile dysfunction.
Fortunately, Leann states, “Specialized physical therapy can often rid the person of these issues that are very common.”
Removing the Stigma
“Pelvic related problems are more common than one would think, especially because most people do not realize what is normal or abnormal when it comes to pain and/or dysfunction of the bowels, bladder, and genitals,” Leann explains. “I have met many, many people over the years who didn’t even realize going to the bathroom two to three times in the middle of the night was not normal, or that having pain with sex is not normal.”
People often blame their age for these problems, Leann says. Women who have given birth also attribute that as the main factor of incontinence. “But that’s just false,” she insists.
“Pelvic floor rehab is so important because people with bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction are suffering; they often feel alone and misunderstood,” Leann continues. “People do not hang out with family and friends discussing their sitting pain, or their intercourse pain, or the fact they haven’t been able to have a bowel movement in weeks. Pelvic floor therapists treat a vast array of symptoms associated with these areas of the body that many people are uncomfortable talking about.”
Physical Therapy From Head to Toe
Although Leann specializes in pelvic floor issues, she knows people experience pain, discomfort, and dysfunction in other areas as well. Wishing to help as many people as she can, she expanded HOPE Center for Pain’s levels of physical therapy.
“Because of feedback from patients on ‘traditional physical therapy’ not helping with pain, I have been steadily growing my practice,” says Leann. “About five years ago I opened up my practice to more than just pelvic problems and started slowly adding other therapists and training them to use the techniques that I have been using for years.
I went from using my techniques to help with pelvic related problems to using those techniques to help with all pain and dysfunctions.”
One such added technique is called cupping therapy, a form of soft tissue mobilization that has proven to be very effective in increasing blood flow, improving tissue flexibility, and creating paths for toxins to be drawn out of the body. “When tissue is stuck, the body can become painful and sensitive. The blood isn’t flowing normally and the nerves become adhered and unfed,” explains Leann. “All of this results in pain and organ dysfunction. As we use the cups or our hands or needles to release the tissue, the body then can function and move better with less pain and fewer problems.”
HOPE Center is also a source for CBD oil from the hemp plant. Use of the oil has proven to help reduce pain and improve sleep for many of Leann’s patients. “I truly believe that by helping reduce pain and improving sleep, people are naturally less stressed and experience less anxiety.”
In addition to the aforementioned methods, Leann and her trained therapists provide therapy though techniques such as dry needling, manual therapy, and the ancient Chinese medical technique called gua sha, as well.
The Right Tools for the Job
Helping and healing in as natural a way as possible is at the forefront of HOPE Center for Pain’s mission. “We utilize all hands-on methods to try to rid the body of pain and dysfunction,” Leann states. “We use cupping therapy for layers of tissue adhesions and scar tissue. We use dry needling for muscle trigger points and scar tissue release. We use gua sha tools to also help address the soft tissue restrictions. But mostly we use the best tool God gave us and that is our hands! We work on the body’s tissue until it lets go of the problem.”
Understandably, when someone is in pain or experiencing any form of physical dysfunction, there is often a desire to right what’s wrong as quickly as possible and do whatever it takes to get back to normal. Unfortunately, that can lead some down paths they cannot ‘un-walk.’
“As a pelvic floor physical therapist I have met many people who have gone to drastic measures for help before trying physical therapy,” Leann shares. “Many times over the years I wish I could have gotten my therapist hands on them before they went under the knife or before that person was addicted to opioids. A physical therapist who specializes in pain should always be the first line of defense before surgery or taking massive amounts of pain medications.”
The Comfort of Healing
The word ‘comfort’ is used to describe a feeling of not just a physical wellbeing but an emotional one as well. When one’s body fails to function as it should, both forms of discomfort often result. These upsetting feelings are only compounded by the discomforting embarrassment of not wanting to discuss or even admit one is having problems in the first place.
The therapists at HOPE Center for Pain understand those feelings. That is why they strive to make their home of healing a place where you can shed your hesitance, receive relief from the pain and discomfort you’ve been living with, and finally experience the healthy body you were meant to have.
HOPE Center for Pain is located at 2810 East Empire St., Suite B in Bloomington. To make an appointment with us, please call them at (309) 452-0704 or visit them on the web at www.hopecenterforpain.com.