The pelvic floor has many important roles, as I talked about HERE. As a pelvic and core stabilizer, they work together with the diaphragm, deep lumbar and abdominal muscles to help maintain changes in intra-abdominal pressure and provide strength. If there is an injury or pain associated with any of the muscles of that system, the pelvic floor, as well as any of the others, may likely be involved. In the case of low back pain, patients may also present with pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD). Individuals with low back pain have a significant decrease in pelvic floor function compared with individuals who do not present with low back pain
Low back pain is a very common musculoskeletal condition, as approximately 70 to 80% of the population will experience an episode of low back pain at least once during their lifetime. There are many causes of low back pain (trauma, postural habits, etc), however it is often difficult to attribute low back pain to one specific cause. With PFD, it is estimated that over 25% of all women will experience these symptoms at some point. There is not one specific cause for pelvic floor dysfunction, however lifestyle, reproductive, anatomic and even genetic factors may play a role in developing PFD. One study showed that women with pre-existing incontinence, gastrointestinal problems and even breathing disorders were more likely to develop low back pain than women without those symptoms (2).
So, what does all of this mean? If you have a back pain, sometimes it might just be from the muscles in your back. However, it may be referring from other regions of your body, especially the pelvic floor. If you have low back pain that’s been stubborn and not going away, it would be helpful to have a pelvic floor physical therapist assess the pelvic floor muscles. After a thorough assessment, you’ll have a better idea if the pelvic floor is involved and given a treatment plan to address their role in your low back pain.
The pelvic floor may be a hidden cause of low back pain. If you’re wondering if your pelvic floor muscles may be contributing to your back pain, please find a pelvic floor PT who can assess and help improve your pain and symptoms!
Arab AM, Behbahnai RB, Lorestani L, Azari A. Assessment of pelvic floor muscle function in women with and without low back pain using transabdominal ultrasound. Manual therapy. 2010 Jun 1;15 (3): 235-9.
Smith M, Russell A, Hodges P. Do incontinence, breathing difficulties, and gastrointestinal symptoms increase the risk of future back pain?. Journal of pain. August 2009; 10 (8): 876-886.