- Tara Albright DPT
Happy May to everyone! May 9th is Mother’s Day, but instead of just focusing on one day we are making the whole month all about women. Most women wear many hats and often take care of others long before they attend to their own needs. Although this is the norm, it is not recommended. In order to help others we first need to take care of ourselves. That is why we are focusing on all those hard working women this month with info tailored specifically towards health issues that women deal with and ways to manage them. Keep in mind that some of these things may also affect Men, but this month’s focus is on women (Men will get their shot in June ).
Pelvic Pain is not just cramping during your cycle, but may actually be linked to an underlying condition that may or may not have to do with the pelvic organs. This pain can often interfere with activities and be debilitating, but there is help. Depending on the cause of the pain your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help alleviate the pain, stretch tight muscles, and strengthen weak muscles that may be part of the problem. Pelvic physical therapy is a very specialized portion of physical therapy and it is important to get treatment from an established pelvic floor specialist. Your doctor should know who to refer you to.
Pain during Pregnancy
Pregnancy comes with some pretty significant changes in your body, and often these changes can create pain, such as sciatica, lower back pain, carpal tunnel, to name a few. Have no fear, physical therapy can help you get back on track and back to focusing on your health and your baby. A physical therapist can assist in pain relief, as well as provide helpful strengthening exercises and stretches to keep you mobile during your pregnancy.
After birth your body is again going through many changes as well as dealing with what has happened to it over the past 9 months. This can be a challenging time and a hard thing to bounce back from, especially with the new addition now occupying more of your time. These issues can range from lower back pain to incontinence. These are all normal things to deal with post-partum, however they need to be addressed so that they don’t continue to hinder your life. Physical therapy can help you get back on track so that you can just focus on you and your new addition.
Women are nearly twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress. This can be due to biology, such as hormone changes, pregnancy, post-partum, etc., but has also been linked to life stressors as well. Although men and women are subject to life stressors, the peak age of depression seems to be between age 20-30, and this can be correlated with child bearing ages and the balance of motherhood and work. This is just one theory behind the increased risk of depression in women, but whatever the cause, knowing that it happens and getting help is the biggest thing. Sometimes, just stress management, taking some “me time”, exercising, and diet changes can manage stress and help with this. However, sometimes medical support is needed to get you out of a “slump” and back on track. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms and see how they can help.
Surprising statistic, women are less likely to get infectious diseases, but account for 80% (yep that’s not a typo) of all autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are when the body attacks itself, creating and immune system response against its own cells. Examples of these are: rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, Lupus, multiple sclerosis, eczema, to name a few. Genetics can be a factor due to the fact that the X chromosome have many more immune genes associated with it. Although genetics seem to be related, it is not the only thing influencing the autoimmune response. Recent research is showing a big link between diet and autoimmune issues. Autoimmune attacks often are caused by inflammation and the body’s response triggers more inflammation, therefore and anti-inflammatory diet may be the best option to combat symptoms. Eliminating sugar, dairy, and possibly gluten, at least in the short term, may decrease your symptoms and allow your body to get back on track. Autoimmune diseases are often known for their fluctuating or “flare-up nature”, therefore getting your symptoms under control through diet changes can help manage these fluctuations and help you find the “triggers” that may be leading to the flare-ups. Exercise has also been shown to help combat autoimmune diseases. Physical therapist have actually begun specialized training in nutrition to provide their patient’s with added education and support when dealing with these types of diseases. We have a few on our team and would love to assist you with any questions you may have.
Heart disease remains the number on killer in both men and women globally. Although both genders can get heart disease, women do have certain risk factors that men do not have, mainly associated with pregnancy, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, which can increase the risk of heart disease in the future. Endometriosis has been shown to increase the risk of CAD by 400% in women over 40. However, the best defense is a good offense! Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including not smoking, getting good exercises regularly, adhering to a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, high quality animal proteins, whole grains, and fish can all help lower your risk of heart disease. Stress management is also noted to be important in the prevention of heart disease. If you are needing help getting active, due to an injury, give us a call today and we will get you back on track.
Cancers (Breast and Ovarien/Cervical)
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, however other cancers are prevalent as well including ovarian and cervical. Unfortunately, there is no true cure for cancer, so early detection is the biggest key. Maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, eating a diet rich in good quality foods and avoiding processed foods, avoiding tobacco and limiting alcohol have all been shown to decrease the risk of cancer. If you are recovering from cancer, physical therapy can help to return to activities you enjoy
Hopefully, this information on women’s health issues was enlightening and maybe you learned something you didn’t know. If after reading this you decided that you may require our services, give us a call today and schedule an appointment. We offer physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy, to meet all your treatment needs. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there! Have a wonderful May!