The blog below is taken largely from the most recent episode of the podcast Collaborative Connections by OrthoPelvic PT. Listen on Apple and Spotify!
🎙️Download, rate, review, and share today!
Today, I will be talking about my journey and how I founded OrthoPelvic. So for those who don’t know me, my name is Dr. Kelly, Alhooie. I am founder and owner of OrthoPelvic Physical Therapy. I started my journey over a decade ago, treating pelvic floors, and I have practiced in five different states.
So I’ve experienced a fair amount of cultural diversity and different ways that different states practice in the pelvic health realm. I first got into pelvic health because I saw that there was a need; I was a Pilates instructor and I was working with lots of women and they always talked about how they had leakage.
I just found it fascinating that no one was actually working with these women. And I knew the number one complaint in outpatient orthopedic was low back pain. So I just started putting the pieces of the puzzle together (no pun intended, due to our logo) realizing there’s a connection between low back pain and leakage, and I wanted to know what’s happening with that.
And so I started to take all these courses and to do all this extra development in pelvic health. And that’s what really sparked my interest. And so I pretty much was the only one doing it in Atlanta at the time. And pelvic health was not cool back then. Like no one talked about it. It was actually kind of shameful and frowned upon.
So I was doing that and I started to realize, wow, I am truly, truly helping these women out. I just started with women at first, I did grow to specialize with men as well in time because yes, we all have pelvic floors, people, and I started to understand that the things that I was doing were making such an impact on these patients’ lives. I saw how they were able to go hiking with their husband because they didn’t have to pee every 15 minutes, and how they were able to sit on the toilet and have a normal bowel movement without having spasms that stop them in their tracks.
There was a lot that came up in my work in pelvic health that was so eye-opening because in PT school, I’m just gonna be honest, we did not talk about pelvic health. And it was only just over a decade ago, but really, it just wasn’t a thing that we talked about, which is shocking because there’s over 20 muscles of the pelvic floor.
So how could we not talk about that when we are the musculoskeletal specialists? So as I dove in, I just started traveling to different states and having different mentors that have been in the field for 25, 30 years doing pelvic health, and I’m so grateful to these people because they truly paved the way for us practitioners now.
And, I started to get more and more knowledge and treat more and more patients and understand that the problem with pelvic health is that not too many people even know what a pelvis is, let alone a pelvic floor, and then that there are actually nonsurgical and non-pharmaceutical solutions that can actually help solve their problems.
And I think another big barrier with pelvic health is that there’s no imaging that’s going to show that your pelvic floor is overactive or underactive. And so it’s all based on doing an internal exam at the office or on yourself and determining what is happening with these muscles. And are they really guarding and holding up? Are they weak and tight?
A lot of times we do find that that’s the case, but there is no x-ray or MRI that you can get that says, “Hey, you have pelvic floor dysfunction.” And a lot of times with pelvic floor conditions, (and I think this is what really sparked my interest with pelvic health) they are very complicated, and it can be very complicated to treat them.
For those people that have been struggling with this, you may have found that it has to be treated with a multi-faceted approach. So it’s not just one way or the highway. That’s just not it. So at OrthoPelvic, we truly believe in this, and this is the community that we’ve cultivated at OrthoPelvic—you have to have different practitioners on your team, and we believe that we can create that team for whatever the issue may be.
So for instance, if someone’s having leakage, we’re going to cultivate a team for them: pelvic health physical therapy should be on board, maybe they’ve seen a urologist, maybe they’ve seen a gynecologist. And so we’re going to create this team. If someone’s having constipation, well pelvic health PT needs to be on board to lengthen the muscles and then maybe we need to hit it with magnesium from a nutrition standpoint that they’re lacking. Maybe the person has pain with sitting, and they can’t sit. We need to hit it from a musculoskeletal component, but then we also need to hit it from an ergonomic component and look at truly what overall is the root cause of this issue.And then maybe we hit it from a pain science approach. Maybe we have to do injections. Maybe we don’t do injections. Maybe we do suppositories. So, there’s lots of different things. And at OrthoPelvic, we cultivate your team. That is what we specialize in.
So many practitioners in our community need to be able to say, “Hey, these are the people you actually want on your team.” And I think that’s very important to have a practice in your area that’s actually doing the work for you and connecting with other providers because in this day and age, a lot of times providers are not connected with other providers, so they just don’t have the ability to address other facets of their patients’ necessary care.
We have the time and we have the resources and that’s why we have our preferred provider list because we know the people that actually have truly made a difference with our patients. And we love to cross-refer. We love to cross collaborate with them, and that’s why we call our podcast Collaborative Connections, because that’s exactly what we’re doing.
So going back to why I do what I do and why I started OrthoPelvic, I do what I do because I’m super passionate about helping people live a better life.
That’s it. Literally, that’s it. And if there’s ways and tools that I have, then I can provide that. And I can talk your ear off, too. I will talk about it all day every day, because I truly am so passionate about finding a good fit or finding a good resource or whatever it may be to help anyone and everyone.
And when it comes to OrthoPelvic, I started OrthoPelvic out of necessity. I was at a job I absolutely hated. And you may or may not know this, but a lot of us docs, we’re forced to see anywhere between 15 to 18 patients a day and some doctors are even seeing 30 patients a day. It just depends on the practice.
And you get so burnt out. There’s no way that you can take care of yourself to then take care of someone else. So there’s no self-care in health care. And I started to realize that I didn’t want to keep continuing to practice like that.
And I couldn’t because my body was getting worn out, and I wanted to provide a community for employees to be able to love what they do, to have passion, to feel lighter and not feel bogged down by so much work.
So I started OrthoPelvic to give employees a center that feels like a fun, light, empowering and uplifting place to work that’s going to give them energy.
I think energy is so huge. I always talk about energy with everyone who works at OrthoPelvic, because I always want to come in with a positive energy and have energy to serve people. You have to have energy to be able to give to other people. And I think that’s huge.
I’m a firm believer that if you take care of yourself, then you can help other people better. And I think that’s huge, and for those who have been following, I’ve been on my own personal journey with this of doing self care. I was really bad at it for the last couple of years, just with starting OrthoPelvic and I’ve now realized since January, that I have to do self care to be able to have the energy, to help patients, help staff help, whoever needs help. And I’ve got to take care of myself. So, for those who are listening, definitely take care of yourself. I promise you, it’s worth the payoff.
Another reason why I started OrthoPelvic Physical Therapy is because I wanted to give patients hope. I kept running into the issue of “Kelly. I’ve seen 5, 6, 7 providers. And no one’s helped me.” So many providers will practice just their own specialty and not branch out to make connections. They’ll just stay in their realm.
And this is no dig against anyone. Pelvic Health PTs typically want to stay in the pelvic health realm, looking at the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system. Urologists. typically want to stay in the urology realm and what’s happening with the bladder. Pain management doctors want to stay in pain management and do injections. And so there’s just different realms.
And I finally found that none of these providers were really talking to each other and collaborating, and with pelvic health, because it’s so complex, you have to have a multi-disciplinary approach. You have to.
And I saw there was a need, and that’s why I started creating this community around OrthoPelvic and just started supporting other businesses and really interviewing other doctors and just seeing what doctors we could connect with. what we cultivate. That’s why we’ve created this amazing community that we’re serving here in Northern Virginia.
I’m super blessed and happy that OrthoPelvic is what it is today. And I’m so thankful for all you and all the patients and everyone that works at OrthoPelvic. I really want everyone to see that we have such passionate people and that we really are helping the community one pelvic floor at a time. We really truly want to help people solve problems that they thought would never be solved.
For instance, no one in healthcare talks about burning in your vaginal region or in your perineal body. Like no one talks about that. No one talks about how lots of engineers and programmers sit at their desk all day and night and they actually can develop either erectile dysfunction, and/or burning with sitting in the vulvar region or perineal body, and they can’t even sit to eat with their families.
Few people in healthcare talk about the postpartum period and the fourth trimester where you have a child and they’re like, “Oh, just I’ll just send you home. See you in six weeks!” And there’s no real continuity of care. That is a big, big disconnect in the healthcare system. And why is it that you hurt your knee and you IMMEDIATELY get a referral to go see an orthopedic PT, and it’s like standard care, but when you have a child and your vag just stretched 10 times it’s normal size, it’s just “Godspeed, see you in 6 weeks, there’s nothing we can do, bye!”
It doesn’t make sense. So this is why we are bridging the gap and helping women get back to comfort in their bodies and to activities so much faster based on, whatever issue they’re trying to solve. And we also work with men! We work with so many men and I want to know that men out there struggling with erectile dysfunction or with penile pain or with burning in their perineal body, or with burning with sitting, these things can be helped! And pelvic health physical therapy is the route to go in conjunction maybe with pain management as well. And again, we can build out your team depending on what issue you’re having.
And we also do Orthopedic. That’s why when I started the company, I called it OrthoPelvic and made our logo the puzzle piece because we do the orthopedic component. We see tons of hips. We really specialize in hips (which are, by the way, a part of the pelvic floor). And then we see the pelvic health component, which could be anything from postpartum, tailbone pain, low back pain, leakage, to pain with intercourse and more. It’s pretty amazing to start seeing a patient for leakage and be able to also address their chronic shoulder pain. Where else can you get that treatment in the same office with the same provider? Welcome to OrthoPelvic 😀
If you want to listen to the unabridged version of this episode, please go to our podcast Collaborative Connections by OrthoPelvic PT. Listen on Apple and Spotify!
🎙️Download, rate, review, and share today!
And if something in this post spoke to you and your relationship to your health, schedule your FREE 10-minute consult call today ✨
Be empowered in education,
OrthoPelvic Physical Therapy