Dry Needling for Pelvic Dysfunction?

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Therapy that can be very effective for orthopedic issues, can also be used to treat pelvic dysfunction in women and men

UH Clinical Update | February 2020

Dry needling, also known as trigger point dry needling, is a technique used to treat dysfunction of skeletal muscle and connective tissue, minimize pain and improve or regulate structural or functional damage. Physical therapists across the UH system utilize dry needling as one part of a broader treatment plan to address a variety of orthopedic issues. Dry needling can also be an effective treatment for pelvic dysfunction.

COLLABORATION BETWEEN ORTHOPEDICS AND PELVIC HEALTH

Karen Connor, PT, OCS, PRPC, a board-certified specialist in orthopaedic physical therapy and certified pelvic rehabilitation practitioner in UH’s Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine department, exclusively treats pelvic dysfunction in adults. Based at UH Westlake Health Center, Connor sees patients – including pregnant and postpartum women – for urinary and fecal dysfunction including incontinence, urgency and frequency as well as pelvic pain. She is also a member of the UH sexual medicine team. Patients are often referred to her by urogynecologists, urologists, OB/GYNs, colorectal physicians and certified nurse midwives.

In 2016, while treating a patient, Connor felt a knot of hyperirritable tissue that was not resolving with typical manual techniques, and believed that dry needling could be added to the patient’s overall treatment plan. “After a multi-faceted review of the patient, including an orthopedic and neurologic assessments and internal and external assessment of her pelvic floor (which is standard with every patient), I recommended dry needling to alleviate symptoms of urgency and frequency,” said Connor. “At that time, I was not trained in dry needling, but my colleague Ben was. So, I approached him to discuss collaborating in the best interest of my patient.”

Benjamin Geletka, PT, DPT, is a board-certified specialist in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy and fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists. Geletka is based at UH Rehabilitation Services and Sports Medicine at T3 Performance in Avon. He recently presented about this patient’s case at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) in Denver, CO.

“I chose to present this case at CSM to highlight the effectiveness of collaboration between orthopedic and pelvic health physical therapy,” said Geletka. “Some patients may not be aware of dry needling as a treatment option for these conditions, and I felt it was important to share the positive patient outcomes we have seen at UH.”

DRY NEEDLING PROVIDES GOOD RESULTS FOR PATIENTS

“The patient reported immediate relief of the urgency/frequency and some pain caused by the restriction in her pelvic floor after her first dry needling treatment,” said Connor. “Its effectiveness inspired me to complete the training required so that I say offer dry needling to my patients. I have been using dry needling now for several years with good results.”

Connor is a member of the pelvic health physical therapy team that includes practitioners throughout the UH system.

For more information, please visit UHhospitals.org/OPRehab. To refer a patient, please call 216-286-REHAB(7342).

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