Q&A with Stephanie Erickson, PT – Women’s Health

Stephanie has over 13 years of experience in the field of physical therapy. She has worked in a variety of therapy settings including outpatient, acute inpatient, skilled nursing and home health. At HAMH she will be focusing on women’s health and pelvic pain conditions, a specialty area that is much needed in rural communities.

What does a Physical Therapist, specializing in Women’s Health do?
A women’s health and pelvic rehab therapist treats conditions that affect a person’s quality of life, such as pain, bowel or bladder dysfunction, or difficulty with activities. A pelvic health PT has special training to assess the pelvic floor muscles internally and externally.

What are some of the problems/issues that you specifically treat?
-Urinary and fecal incontinence and urgency
-Pelvic and perineal pain
-Pregnancy and postpartum pain
-Myofascial, SI joint, spine, coccyx, abdominal and hip pain

What is the largest misconception you think patients have about what you do?
One of the largest misconceptions that patients have is that Kegals are the only treatment for incontinence. Often, Kegals are only a small part of the treatment are not appropriate for some patients. That is why the internal muscle exam is so important. Another misconception is that physical therapy will be painful. Although, at times things can be painful, my goal is not to increase pain or make the patient push through or ignore pain. Typically, patients feel better when they leave, even if they came in very flared up.

What are some types of treatments that you use?
There are many treatment options for pelvic dysfunction, depending on the findings. Exercise, education, manual therapy techniques, joint mobilizations biofeedback and muscle retraining, relaxation and mindfulness, breathing and more.

What type of education have you had specific to women’s health?
My formal training in pelvic rehab has been done through Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehab Institute. I have had over 100 hours of classroom and hands-on lab time since April of 2015 to help me treat a variety of conditions of male and female patients.

When a patient comes to see you, what information should they bring?
Treating these conditions requires a lot of information about the patient. Having a good knowledge of one’s medical and surgical history is important.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give patients to improve their overall health?
You only get one body. Take good care of it by eating nourishing foods, drinking water, moving and exercising, getting quality sleep, and stress reduction. If that seems overwhelming, make one small change at a time.

If folks wanted additional health information about physical therapy, as it relates to women’s health what are some available resources?
Medical professionals are the best source of information always. There are also some really great books that are geared toward patients in friendly language. If the internet is used, it is important to stick to credible websites that base their information off of research. Your doctor or physical therapist can let you know if the website is a good source