Physical Therapy Treatments For Levator Ani Syndrome

Physical Therapy Treatments For Levator Ani Syndrome | Capitol Physical Therapy | Washington DC Physical Therapists

Levator ani syndrome is a common long term type of pelvic floor dysfunction.

It may lead to a variety of symptoms, such as pain and discomfort, that can have a significant impact on everyday life.

Pelvic floor issues are more common in women than in men.

RELATED: Physical Therapy for Women’s Health Issues

Fortunately, there is help.

At Capitol Physical Therapy, we offer pelvic floor dysfunction therapy for the management of symptoms associated with levator ani syndrome.

This can include physical therapy treatments for chronic pain as well as physical therapy for urinary incontinence, for bowel issues, and sexual difficulties.

Let’s take a closer look at levator ani syndrome and how physical therapy can help.

What Is Levator Ani Syndrome?

Levator ani syndrome is a pelvic floor dysfunction that causes your pelvic floor muscles to overly tighten.

Levator ani syndrome may also be referred to as:

  • Chronic anorectal pain
  • Chronic proctalgia
  • Levator spasm
  • Pelvic tension myalgia
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Puborectalis syndrome

Pelvic floor muscles are dome-shaped muscles that help to support numerous organs, such as your:

  • Rectum
  • Bladder
  • Urethra
  • Uterus
  • Vagina

Your levator ani consists of three deep pelvic floor muscles that surround your rectum, anus, and vagina.

These muscles perform a variety of functions, including urination and bowel movements

When these muscles are tightened, you hold your urine or stool in.

When these muscles are relaxed, it helps you urinate or defecate.

These muscles may remain tense for long periods of time, causing levator ani syndrome.

Levator ani syndrome can lead to a variety of problems, such as trouble emptying bowels, constipation, pelvic pain, painful intercourse, and erectile dysfunction.

Levator ani syndrome is more common in people assigned female at birth.

Levator Ani Syndrome Symptoms

The symptoms of levator ani syndrome are usually chronic and may impact your quality of life.

The most common symptom of levator ani syndrome is chronic pain in the rectum caused by spasms in the levator ani muscles.

This pain is usually described as a constant or wave like dull ache, burning sensation, or pressure in the rectum.

The pain may become worse when sitting down.

It’s also common for the pain to be worse higher in the rectum and on the left side of your body.

Additionally, lower back pain that spreads into the groins and thighs is also common with levator ani syndrome.

Men may also experience pain that spreads to the:

  • Prostate
  • Testicles
  • Tip of the penis and urethra

RELATED: Physical Therapy for Men’s Health

If you have been diagnosed with levator ani syndrome, you may also experience urinary or bowel problems, as well as sexual difficulties.

Urinary or bowel problems associated with levator ani syndrome include:

  • Constipation and straining to pass bowel movements
  • Feeling like you haven’t completed a bowel movement
  • Bloating
  • Increased urination
  • Difficulty beginning urination
  • Urinary incontinence

Sexual difficulties associated with levator ani syndrome include:

Due to some of the above symptoms, levator ani syndrome may also cause you to experience:

What Do Muscle Spasms From Levator Ani Syndrome Feel Like?

Spasms from levator ani syndrome can feel different for everyone.

For some, these spasms feel like a dull pain.

For others, they feel like a vibration located in the perineum, vagina, or rectum.

Levator ani muscle spasms are usually brief and last no more than 20 minutes.

What Causes Levator Ani Syndrome?

Levator ani syndrome occurs when the levator ani muscles are short, contracted, and weak.

Due to this weakness, the muscles can’t support proper blood flow to the surrounding structures, and ultimately results in an inflammatory response.

The pain you experience is caused by spasms in the muscles of the levator ani.

In particular, the main muscle involved in the pain is the puborectalis, which is the muscle wrapped around your lower rectum.

The exact cause of weakened levator ani muscles is currently unknown.

However, factors that may contribute to levator ani syndrome include:

  • Childbirth
  • Not urinating or passing stool when needed
  • Vagina shrinking (atrophy) or vulva pain (vulvodynia)
  • Continuing sexual intercourse despite pain
  • Pelvic floor injury due to surgery or trauma
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Endometriosis
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Dysfunction in the pelvic floor muscles

How Can Physical Therapy For Levator Ani Syndrome Help?

Physical therapy is an effective solution for the management of levator ani syndrome.

Your physical therapist will teach you daily relaxation techniques that you can perform by yourself at home.

These pelvic floor exercises will help to relax your levator ani muscles.

These relaxation techniques may include progressive muscle relaxation and other breathing exercises.

Kegel exercises for the pelvic floor muscles may also help provide treatment for levator ani syndrome.

There are also physical therapy treatments for the pelvic floor pain that may come along with levator ani syndrome.

In severe cases, ultrasound trigger point injections may be used to get medications directly to the constricted muscle.

Talk with your physical therapist to determine which treatment option is right for you.

How Can Physical Therapy For Levator Ani Syndrome Help | Capitol Physical Therapy | Washington DC Physical Therapists

Home Exercises To Relieve Levator Ani Syndrome Discomfort

As previously mentioned, your physical therapist will provide you with at home relaxation techniques to help with symptom management.

Let’s take a look at some of these techniques in more detail.

1. Viparita Karani Pose

This technique is simply known as the legs up on the wall pose.

To begin, sit with your hips approximately five or six inches away from a wall.

Next, lay down and slowly swing your legs up so they’re pressed against the wall and your heels are towards the ceiling.

Relax your shoulders and your arms.

Focus on your breathing and hold this position for 3 to 5 minutes.

You should repeat this pose five times a day.

To come out of the pose safely, bend your knees and roll to your side, remain here for a few breaths, and use your arms to push yourself up to a seated position.

2. Ananda Balasana

This one is also known as the “happy baby” pose, and is a stretch commonly used in yoga and pilates.

To begin, lay on your back on a comfortable surface, such as a bed or yoga mat.

Next, bend your knees and raise your feet upwards towards the ceiling.

Once in this position, reach to grip the outside of your ankles and gently separate your legs until they’re wider than your hips.

Focus on your breathing and hold this pose for 30 seconds.

You should repeat this pose three to five times a day.

This works to improve your range of motion, balance and flexibility, and helps to strengthen your pelvic muscles.

3. Balasana

You may have heard this one called child’s pose before.

This pose gently stretches your lower back, hips, and thighs.

To do it, kneel down on the floor, with your knees about as wide as your yoga mat, if you’re using one.

From there, sit on your heels, then fold your torso overtop of them, reaching forward.

Your neck should stay in a relatively neutral position, not bending forward or back.

Because this pose doesn’t cause much strain, you can hold it for as long as you like, but 3 to 5 minutes is a good benchmark.

Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today

Levator ani syndrome can interfere with your work, romantic relationships, and daily activities.

At Capitol Physical Therapy, we want to help you get back to your everyday life.

Our expert physical therapists can help you manage your symptoms.

Book your appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today.

Capitol Physical Therapy
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005


9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772


Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC