This is the third of a three-part series regarding the benefits of physical therapy after treatment for anal cancer. The Anal Cancer Foundation is thrilled to have licensed physical therapist Dr. Allison Palandrani lend her expertise on this subject matter, focusing on pelvic floor physical therapy.

See our latest update to this series which was posted August 26, 2020 on the blog.

Featured Contributor: Allison Palandrani, PT, DPT

In the first two parts of our three part series, we discussed how physical therapy (PT) can help people recovering from anal cancer treatment and what the therapy sessions look like. In our third part, we will discuss resources to find a pelvic floor physical therapist to help you.

One of the biggest challenges for people in need of pelvic floor physical therapy after anal cancer treatment is finding the right physical therapist. A variety of issues are behind this difficulty. First, the supply of physical therapists qualified to treat the pelvic floor does not meet the patient demand. A major reason for this is that pelvic floor therapy is not a part of the majority of current PT school curriculums. So, physical therapists that want to become educated in pelvic floor rehab have to fund their own post-graduate training. While post-graduate educational opportunities in pelvic floor PT do exist, they are limited.

Second, the interaction between doctors and pelvic floor PTs is still very much a work in progress. So it’s not a given that a patient’s physician is going to recommend a PT.

Considering these challenges, how does one find a knowledgeable and experienced pelvic floor PT?

Fortunately, there are extremely knowledgeable and experienced pelvic floor PTs out there, and in this blog I’m going to give you some advice on how to connect with them.

American Physical Therapy Association

The APTA is a professional association for physical therapists in the United States. On its website, the APTA offers a searchable database of “women’s health” physical therapists. I qualify the phrase “women’s health” because pelvic floor issues do not discriminate between the sexes. However, the wording used by the APTA has yet to catch up with the evolving field of pelvic floor rehab. Thankfully, some of the PTs listed in APTAs “women’s health” locator treat both women and men with pelvic pain, so despite its name, this database can be used by both men and women to find a PT.

In addition to your own questions, be sure to ask your potential physical therapist: (1) do you treat pelvic floor issues related to recovery from anal cancer? (Note that many PTs only treat incontinence and anal cancer treatment side effects generally encompass more, so you are looking for a PT that has a broader expertise than incontinence); and (2) How do you treat pelvic pain? What you’re looking for is the treatment approach I’ve described in my previous two blog posts.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Resources

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Classes

One great way to find a pelvic floor PT is to get in touch with the folks who are teaching postgraduate courses in pelvic floor PT.

The Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center, where I work, is one clinic that teaches such a course. Feel free to contact us, and if we know of a PT in your area that we are comfortable recommending, we will be more than happy to do so.

The Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute is also an organization that teaches a variety of post-graduate pelvic floor PT courses. A patient could contact the faculty members of Herman & Wallace and ask for a PT recommendation.

The International Pelvic Pain Society

The International Pelvic Pain Society (IPPS) is a non-profit organization whose membership includes gynecologists, urologists, physical therapists, psychologists, and other health professionals. Since 1995, the IPPS has sponsored a variety of research and educational programs aimed at providing optimal diagnosis and treatment to pelvic pain sufferers. The IPPS has a “find a medical provider” option on its website that includes some providers in the United Kingdom as well as United States.

Happy Pelvis or other Pelvic Pain Social Media

Happy Pelvis is a Yahoo message group that was started to support pelvic pain sufferers who are seeking PT. Today, Happy Pelvis has hundreds of active members who are always willing to recommend PTs. In addition, there is a searchable list of pelvic pain PTs in the group’s archives.

The above are all great resources that you can use to find pelvic floor physical therapy in your area.

Working with a skilled pelvic floor PT who you are comfortable with is paramount to successful therapy. As discussed earlier, there are currently less pelvic floor physical therapy resources for men. However, this trend is beginning to shift over time. With these 3 blogs, my goal is to help people feel empowered to advocate for themselves and seek the care that they need to maximize their pelvic rehabilitation following treatment for anal cancer.