Sarton Physical Therapy

Hope and healing for pelvic floor dysfunction

Testimonials | Sarton Physical Therapy

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Sarton Physical Therapy: Hope and healing for all forms of pelvic floor dysfunction in women and men.


714-770-8222
Fax 714-770-8228

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I cannot say enough good things about my entire experience with the team at Sarton Physical Therapy. If all medical treatment was of this high quality, incidences of chronic undiagnosable conditions would be far less.  All of the pelvic floor therapists, Julie, Nicole, Dana and Mona are highly skilled, knowledgeable, and caring practitioners. They treat each patient as an individual and spend a great deal of time assessing and treating some of the complex causes and symptoms of pelvic pain with both internal and external treatments.

The combination of working with all of the therapists who each bring something slightly different to the table has been tremendous.  They are also wonderful teachers and have helped me utilize many strategies to deal with flare ups at home and continue healing.   I have never experienced medical care where every practitioner in the practice is of such outstanding quality!

Finally, the medical billing specialist Donna, also goes above and beyond for every patient.  My insurance had already denied my claim through a request from my primary care physician.  I had no hope that the insurance would cover any treatment for me.  Donna spent half an hour on the phone with my insurance company explaining the unique nature of Sarton Physical Therapy and to my shock, got 30 visits covered thus far.  I would not have been able to continue treatment without Donna's outstanding effort!

I am only 4 months into my treatment and have a long way to go, but my experience at Sarton Physical Therapy has been by far the best medical experience I have had in the five years I have been searching for an accurate diagnosis and treatment for my pelvic pain. I finally have hope that I may live a normal life one day. -DB
Pudendal Neuropathy/Neuralgia
I have sat down to write this letter many a times, but how does one thank a clinic and therapists that literally saved your life. On April 24, 2012, my husband and I walked in to Sarton Physical Therapy broken. I was broken physically, but my pelvic floor dysfunction had broken our spirit. I had gone a year untreated and misdiagnosed by doctors, chiropractors, and therapists. I distinctly remember walking in to the clinic, standing during the consultation with Dr. Nicole Vasquez and pacing the room as we discussed what I was going through. It was the first time I was really heard, felt understood, and diagnosed.

After a thorough investigation, Dr. Nicole confirmed what I feared the most. I likely had Pudendal Neuralgia. I couldn’t sit without pain, any physical activity spasmed my pelvic floor, and I had nervy sensations all throughout my female parts. I felt like I was sitting on a golf ball almost all of the time. The sensations started the moment I opened my eyes and remained until the moment I went to bed. It not only was uncomfortable, it messed with me emotionally. I can remember asking her, “Can I get better?”. She answered, “Yes”. And although I didn’t really believe her at the time, we sprung into action.

Dr. Nicole navigated my entire healing journey. She got me to the correct Pain Management Doctor (Dr. Frank King) who prescribed medications to calm the nervous system and muscle relaxers for the pelvic floor. She advised me to see Dr. Michael Hibner in Arizona, at that time mostly just to set my heart at ease that we were on the right track. Lastly, we began extensive pelvic floor physical therapy. I drove to Tustin, one hour away from my home, three times a week at it’s peak for therapy. I didn’t miss an appointment and I followed her advice to a t. It was a full time job. Each time I went, I felt a tiny bit better. I did not see dramatic changes for a long time. In fact, the recovery has been more like a roller coaster. Ups and downs for which I have learned to weather with ease rather than ramp up my emotions and nervous system which likely would cause more pain.

One might ask, “How did this happen?”. At this point, it’s all conjecture. I am a 34 year old female, former triathlete, competitive swimmer, mother of two, and teacher. We believe that my body was probably brewing this perfect storm for some time. I had history of Iliotibial Band problems from running, sacroiliac joint dysfunction likely inherited from my mother, and a long labor with my large headed son. Bam. There you have it.

The good news, though, two years later after countless hours of physical therapy with Dr. Nicole, hours in the gym retraining my core muscles and ridding my body of compensatory measures, and at home treatments, I am 90% recovered. If you go online, read about Pudendal Neuralgia, no one gets better. Dr. Nicole instructed me to get off the forums, blogs, and facebook pages. They were not helping in any way, in fact they would breed anxiety and fear. But, I am living breathing proof that you can recover from Pudendal Neuralgia.

I am still under the care of Dr. Nicole and will continue until I am 100%. Now, I know that I will get there. Without Nicole, her always calming reassurance and her expert manual therapy techniques, I would not be the woman that I am today. Today, I went to the gym, cared for my children, took care of my home, and lived a normal life. I am happy, joyful, and very thankful for her healing hands and the work that Sarton Physical Therapy does.

With the greatest of gratitude,

HG May 7, 2014


My journey with pudenal neuralgia began when I noticed a persistent tingling sensation in the perineum associated with sitting. The longer I sat, particularly when driving or riding a bicycle, the symptoms became more intense and after 30 to 40 minutes became almost intolerable. For the first several weeks, I was certain it was a temporary problem and (like so many other injuries I’ve had) would eventually go away. As the problem persisted, however, I grew increasingly concerned and began to research possible causes and diagnoses.

With the help of Julie Sarton as well as Dr. Jerome Weiss I came to understand that my symptoms were a form of pudendal neuralgia, likely caused by a combination of factors, including a history of intense involvement in athletics and cycling as well as long hours on the computer for professional writing and research. I also came to understand that, unlike other injuries I had experienced, nerves are complex and take a long time to heal. This was not going to improve with a few weeks or even months of medication, therapy, and rest. It was going to be a long journey requiring patience, persistence, and commitment over a period of years.

It’s now been almost two years since the initial onset of symptoms and over 18 months since I began a consistent and diligent treatment plan with Julie.... I have increased my sitting tolerance from 5 minutes to 90 minutes and have made numerous lifestyle adjustments which have allowed me to maintain a sense of normalcy in my daily work and activities.

Among the many things I have learned from Julie, perhaps the most important has been to accept and even embrace the process. I’ve learned to make pudendal neuralgia my hobby—to study it, be fascinated by it, and to learn as much as I can about my body and how it’s responding to various treatments. I tracked my condition and progress with three different tools: (1) a simple journal with 2-3 entries per week regarding observations or patterns with my symptoms; (2) a monthly spreadsheet with a daily entry regarding the level of pain tolerance (on a scale of 1-10); and (3) a spreadsheet where I capture data from weekly functional sit tests, timing how long I can sit without symptoms in relationship to the various changes in treatment or other circumstances.

I attribute my progress to a combination of  lifestyle adjustments (standing work station, bar-height tables at restaurants, carpooling and lying down in the back seat, swimming instead of running and biking, etc), dietary choices (avoiding lactose which was causing some distension and placing additional pressure on the pelvic floor), physical therapy (weekly appointments for both internal and external work),  and independent exercises (skin rolling, perineal massage, deep diaphragmatic breathing, careful stretching).  There is no easy answer or quick fix other than the daily commitment to avoid compressing the nerve and reverse the cycle of muscle spasms that is causing this neuropathy.  While I can’t predict the road ahead, I’m committed for the long haul and thankful for the knowledge I’m gaining each day to influence my own health and recovery process.

As John Wooden (legendary UCLA basketball coach) writes in one of my favorite quotes: … “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. . . .Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens–and when it happens it lasts.”

Dr. B.E.
Author, Researcher, and Educational Consultant


In the months preceding my pudendal neuralgia, I had notable stiffening in my low back and groin pain. This was followed by tailbone pain and a painless tightening about my hips. My nerve pain began as burning, stinging vaginal pain. The pain quickly progressed to involve my entire perineum. Within a week I had severe unrelenting electrical pain. Initially my pain was almost 24 hours. I had difficulty focusing, having a conversation and eating.

As part of my treatment plan which included muscle relaxants and trigger point injections, I was referred to Julie for physical therapy. Julie gave me my life back. There is no one in the country that is more knowledgeable and experienced in pudendal neuralgia. Not only does Julie have unsurpassed clinical skills, but her enthusiasm, encouragement and reassurance have guided me through this painful and challenging experience.

I haven’t had significant pain in months. I can’t believe how good I feel. I’ve been steadily increasing my activities, exercising and sitting time. I’m so relieved to feel like myself again.
Contrary to what you might read on other websites, yes, there is life with and after pudendal neuralgia.

As a physician practicing emergency medicine, I know what it is to save a life and I can say without exaggeration that Julie saved mine. I am forever grateful.
S.S.

Julie Sarton is a very talented woman who has helped me immensely to recover from a terrible pudendal nerve and tailbone injury. I owe her my life and would recommend her knowledge, care, and expertise to anyone for any physical therapy needs. She is a real healer and an amazing therapist. Thank you Julie
V.R.

Painful Intercourse
Hi Julie, I just want to thank you.....the relief and comfort I experienced both mentally, emotionally and physically after our appointment was incredible.  My husband and I both came away with hope.  Finding you has been our salvation.  Thank you again for helping us with such an intimate issue.  I could not have asked for a better physical therapist.  Sincerely, JF
 
Julie Sarton has made my experience with PT the best one I have ever had.  She is a brilliant and compassionate woman - the best!  MB

My sessions with you have healed me on several levels: first, you validated that there was something going on in the muscles and tissue that was causing sex to be painful--i.e. it was not "all in my head."   You gave me exercises and tools with which I could treat myself.  You treated me manually and released so much of the tightness.  You also confirmed what I had suggested to my doctor: that I had indeed experienced atrophy and you referred me to an expert to treat this.  I can't tell you enough how much your abundant dedication, kindness and skill have helped me.  You knew what I needed and you made sure I got it.  LC
Vulvodynia
Dear Julie, Thank you so much for helping me feel normal again!  I feel no pain in my vulvar area! Your physical therapy for my vulvodynia has been a blessing.  I cant thank you enough for your expertise and knowledge!  LN

Dear Julie,  I am writing to thank you again for your treatment and education on my vulvodynia.   It has been 2 months since the end of my therapy sessions and I have been nearly pain-free since then! This is because of your training and the treatment I received.  You have taught me how to be my own therapist and deal with any flare ups that come my way.  I feel in control and am so grateful such treatment exists.  Please share this with your patients as I want them to know there is hope and happiness!  Sincerely, LS
 
I have suffered for the first 3 years of my marriage with vulvodynia.  I saw over 12 doctors who could not diagnose my problem. Once it was finally diagnosed, several methods of treatments were recommended including the application of estrace cream, anti-depressants, anti-histamines and biofeedback.  For the first year of under going these treatments, nothing seemed to help my pain until I found Julie and started undergoing internal pelvic floor manual work with Julie.  After one month of PT, I was able to be intimate with my husband for the first time.  My vulvar pain level when I came in was an 8 and now is down to a 1.  Julie's pelvic floor treatment has literally changed my life.  AH
 
Pelvic Pain
Sarton PT has been such a blessing! It has dramatically improved the quality of my life and has allowed me to travel again without severe pelvic pain and resulting anxiety. Dana, my physical therapist has worked wonders in a very short amount of time. Prior to coming to Sarton PT I was told I might need surgery or Botox injections. Currently, my pain/ discomfort has almost completely resolved. I would definitely recommend Sarton PT to anyone who suffers from pelvic pain or dysfunction, especially Dana. She is very caring and knowledgeable.


Dear Julie,  I just want to let you know how profoundly grateful I am to you for all that you have done for me.  I was in so much pain and felt so hopeless before I came to you.  Now I am filled with hope for the future and I feel so much better.  I want you to know how thankful I am for you.  You are doing a great job and changing lives.  Love, AS


Working with Julie Sarton has been a revelation, and I believe physical therapy with a specialist in pelvic pain has been the single most important part of my recovery. Julie has taught me how to treat my own body both internally and externally, in effect becoming my own physical therapist, using techniques such as specific stretches, scar massage, skin rolling, foam roller exercises and trigger point release both internally and externally.   It has been over a year since my intensive treatment ended, and I have had only one minor flare, which I was able to overcome on my own using the techniques Julie taught me.  I can wear jeans or fitted pants with no discomfort. I no longer turn down work or social invitations.  I have had months go by without a single hint of a symptom.  However, I know that prolonged sitting is not good for me, and I have to stay regular with my bowel movements.  Stressful situations put me at risk for flares, so I do my best to
keep stress at bay by avoiding unnecessary stress, such as watching too much TV news or being around people who are negative and draining.  My husband suffered two major strokes this year and became disabled, and I suddenly became a full-time caregiver.  Had I not found Julie when I did and discovered a way back to health, I would not have been able to cope with my husband's illness either mentally or physically.  She is truly a marvel, a knowledgeable, kind and gifted healer, and I recommend her without reservation.  DM

Thank you for everything you do each time we meet to help dissect " the puzzle" -  You would have been a tremendous detective!  Glad you're not!  Without you and all you have done I would have never come this far!  JB

Thanks to Julie Sarton, who specializes in women's health.  Following major pelvic surgery and a serious fall at home resulting in many months of pain. I had difficulty doing simple things such as getting up out of a chair, being able to vacuum and do other household chores, being able to bend over to tie my own shoes, being able to travel; or sit greater than 30 minutes. With Julie's help and PT, I have been able to overcome 90% of my problems and pain.  I am very grateful for Julie's support, treatment and teaching that has resulted in my regaining of my life.  I even have gained enough stability and strength to resume my passion, gardening. I am able to travel now and the most rewarding, I am able to once again share pain-free intercourse with my husband of 39 years.  Sincerely, RM
 
Julie is the reason I am pain-free....what a wonderful spirit and her expertise is amazing! JD

Dear Julie, I just want to thank you for all your knowledgeable help in my treatment for pelvic pain.  Until my physician recommended you to me, I had lived in extreme pain for months and months with no diagnosis and no answers.  I was sent from one specialist to another and endured many tests, all of which showed nothing abnormal...  Your manual treatment over the last 3 months have brought me an end to my pain!  I know you were determined to get me there and I am forever grateful for all your efforts and understanding. “ Sincerely, CH
Post Surgical Pelvic Pain
During the darkest times, there was no hope. There was only the constant aching belief that life would always be this way. For eighteen months, my life was filled with despair, with pain, and with tears. Each day crawled by and deepened the black hole that consumed my thoughts, my nighttime dreams and any shred of hope that my life would return to anything even close to what it was before. As I look back now on those dark days and nights, I can still feel the depth of despair, and say with certainty that despair is no longer part of my world. During that time, I could not see even a pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel. There was only blackness surrounding me in every action and every thought.

Let me tell you how I came to be in that darkness and what it was that dispelled it. A surgery to repair abdominal tissues and insert a bladder sling brought low-level pelvic muscle dysfunction to a critically high level. This caused my entire body to respond by tightening up. The symptoms included a bloated and tender torso, tissues everywhere in my body to expand with fluid, a complete shut down of the elimination system that required daily use of enemas, and daily tears for the things I lost – my health, my body, and my life as I knew it.

For eighteen months, I did not know about pelvic floor dysfunction and neither did the parade of sixteen medical specialties that I saw one-by-one. As the eighteen-month mark approached, another problem surfaced. The bladder sling moved and could now be felt upon vaginal internal exam. My gyn referred me to a surgeon to discuss removal surgery.
During the first vaginal exam, after the surgeon felt the sling, she touched the deep internal pelvic floor muscles and sent me through the roof with completely unexpected and intense pain. She was as shocked as I was. Before I left that appointment, I had the name and number of Julie Sarton, Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Specialist, and a directive to see Julie at least three times before the surgery scheduled five weeks later to remove the sling.

I met with Julie and during the initial evaluation, she heard me and understood all my symptoms and knew the reason for my pain and knew how to fix it! At the end of that time with Julie, a light appeared at the end of the tunnel! That very first pelvic floor physical therapy appointment made a huge difference in how I felt! The pain was reduced and hope was restored! I saw Julie three times before the surgery and several times after. Julie gave me exercises to do at home and taught me to recognize tight muscles in a part of my body in which I previously had no awareness.

My torso is no longer bloated and tender. The tissues that were filled with fluid all over my body are slowly returning to normal. Enemas are no longer necessary. My body now functions normally in that way.

This short summation of the hellacious eighteen months can hardly capture the depth of despair I felt every day, every hour, and the new feeling of joy for knowing I have my body and my life back!

Julie’s knowledge, expertise and sweet caring attitude has transformed my life in a way I never expected and could not believe possible.

Pelvic floor dysfunction is real. It presents a wide range of very painful and very distressing symptoms. With your cooperation and willing involvement, Julie can give you your health and your health body back just like she gave me mine! I call Julie my angel! MKU

Male Pelvic Pain
Roughly four years ago while on a business trip, I found myself faced with a terrible case of urinary frequency (had the urge to go every 20 minutes). That led to groin and pelvic pains, and a general ill feeling. I made it home to my family doctor, who checked for a urinary infection. Although that test was negative, he prescribed an antibiotic saying it was likely prostatitis. After a couple of weeks, the symptoms subsided. Over the next year, I had a couple more attacks. Each met with the same negative urinary infection test, prostate examines and antibiotic prescription. My family doctor finally sent me to a urologist, who also said I had prostatitis and likewise prescribed antibiotics. Another two years passed by and my urinary urge and pelvic pains got worse. My urologist put me on long term antibiotics. By then I had gone through five different antibiotics and a run of no less than nine straight months on antibiotics. After my own research I was concluding that I had a pelvic muscle problem - which in turn led to the pains and urinary urgency. I went to another urologist for a second opinion and he told me to immediately stop the antibiotics. He said my conclusion was right, but had no recommendation for treatment other than anti-inflammatory drugs like Motrin and possibly finding a pelvic pain therapist - but he cautioned that most in this area only treat women. After continued problems and searching, I finally found Dr. Julie Sarton. After my first meeting with Julie, I was hopeful as she seemed to understand what I have been through and the cause of my problems. Julie's first treatment showed me my pelvic muscles were a real mess - very tense and tender. I was amazed at how treating the pelvic muscles would replicate the urinary urge and pains. After a few treatments I observed clear improvement. Now I am nearing two years later and I have been very successful in that I have been able to control and nearly eliminate my symptoms. Moreover, I have been antibiotic free since starting my treatments with Julie. It took me a long time to find Julie but I am thankful I did. She has saved me from a very frustrating condition. Better living through chemistry is not the solution to this very common problem for men. I want to help other men learn that there is a better solution than antibiotics and their root cause is something much different than the common diagnosis of a prostate problem. For me, my pelvic pain is caused by too much time on the freeway coupled with days full of siting in meetings and too much stress. The physical therapy treatment and advise that Julie provides is the answer for me - and it is the answer for many men suffering from this condition. I have learned to appreciate the complexity of the pelvic muscle structure. I am living much better than I had been and I hope the family physician and urologist community learn to understand the real causes for many of these cases. SS


Interstitial Cystitis
Dear Nicole, I want to thank-you for the excellent improvement I am experiencing in my Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and pain associated with Interstitial Cystitis. Your combined expertise and intuitive approach to my specific condition and needs have resulted in a significant decrease in pain, increased function, and has greatly improved my quality of life! I believe you are divinely guided in your treatments with me, as you knew what needed to be done or adjusted each step of the way.
My journey began over 4 years ago with a diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis (IC). Traditional and alternative treatments were prescribed with, at the most, a 30% - 50% temporary improvement of symptoms. It was not until I began working with you on my Pelvic Floor Dysfunction did I feel that the possibility of “getting my life back” would manifest. I can now report an 80% rate of improvement in my pain and symptoms. This has taken time and fortitude, but nothing in life worthwhile is done without some work and determination.
I am a very proactive person, with much to look forward to in life. Living in constant, debilitating pain was not an option for me. I am so grateful that my journey led me to you and Sarton PT, as I do strongly believe this was divine intervention. I feel there is an urgent need to educate the medical community regarding the importance of seeking pelvic PT for IC and appreciate you and Sarton PT doing this.
With much gratitude - KH

Dearest Julie,  Thank you for being such a caring, talented and gifted physical therapist.  The Lord has blessed you with hands of healing. Thank you for helping get my Interstitial Cystitis under control.  LN
Urinary Incontinence
I am so glad my urologist referred me to Sarton Physical Therapy. The treatments and exercises prescribed to me have helped me greatly with my incontinence issues. My first appointment was with Julie Sarton and my remaining treatments were with Dana Colella. Both therapists were very kind and really put me at ease and made me feel comfortable with the process. I learned so much about my body and what can be done to relieve my problems. I have finished my sessions with Dana, but I know if I continue with the advice and exercises that she gave me, I will continue to do well.
Thank you Dana and Julie!
Fecal Incontinence
Julie, I am forever in your debt for the blessed relief you have given me.  As you know, the traumatic birth of my son 3 years ago left me with a 180 degree tear of my external and internal anal sphincter muscles.  This defect caused me to have frequent daily episodes of fecal incontinence.  This handicapping condition drastically reduced my quality of life and I though my only recourse was to have an exceptionally risky and painful surgery.  Then I was referred to you and you determined that I would benefit from intensive pelvic floor PT and designed an individual program for me.  Because of your patience, excellent teaching and expertise, I have now gone from 10 episodes of fecal incontinence day to 1 or 2 small episodes per month.  My life has completely changed for the better.  After 6 weeks of PT with you, my (physician) concurs that I do not need surgery to correct my muscular defect.  I can now swim, work, exercise and go about normal life without worrying about leaking. Thank you!  Sincerely. SB

I would like every doctor in South Orange County specializing in the disruption to the normal flow of nutrients through our bodies to know of the tremendous transformation I've just encountered through the efforts of Mona, Espanola, DPT of Sarton PT. I have gone form 6 bathroom calls a day, with all the attendant toilet paper, wipes and diaper ( fecal incontinence) to only 2 ( with a tremendous cost savings in paper products) in a period of only 4 weeks and 4 treatments.

For any physician who works in this area, the strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles is the answer for a normal life. Ms. Espanola, though tiny displays tremendous strength and sensitivity in this delicate area of our bodies. I strongly recommend your services below to all my doctors and their colleagues. SP
Rectal Pain
I was 29 when I had my son. I had a healthy, active past without any trace of medical problems.  I had a full time job and exercised daily combined with yoga and meditation.  I continued my regimen through my pregnancy and ate a well balanced organic diet.  I had hired a doula and did 19 hours of natural childbirth by hypno-birthing and mediating.  It was pretty spectacular, although I did have a 2nd degree tear.  
At my 6 week OB check up I complained that about recently developing an incredible amount of pain with and after bowel movements.  I was diagnosed with hemorrhoids and told to do sitz baths and follow up with my PCP.  Eventually I had the hemorrhoids banded and removed with no relief and exacerbations of my pain.  Finally, after a fourth opinion, I was diagnosed and treated with having an anal fissure.
I had gone from being an active healthy mom to being bedridden and in constant pain.  During the next 18 months I had to have full time care for my son, quit my job, and eventually moved in with my parents after my husband was able to re-locate jobs.   It hurt to sit, lie down, nurse my baby, and just to breathe. I tried several treatments, saw numerous physicians, and tried alternative treatments and herbs; all failed.  The only option left was surgery, with possible long-term side effects of bowel incontinece, and no guarantee of preventing a relapse.  I was hesitant to proceed with surgery, not only because of the complications, but it would not treat the underlying cause. 
Luckily, and thankfully, I was referred to Julie Sarton, DPT after finding a colorectal doctor who recognized my rectal pelvic floor muscles were in spasm.  After my first treatment I remember leaving with an instant decrease in my pain level.  After all these months, Julie was the first person to discuss treating the underlying cause of my condition.  I discovered that all the years of painful periods and pain with intercourse were signs and symptoms of a pre-existing condition: pelvic floor muscular dysfunction.   Through weekly treatments consisting of both internal and external manual treatment and daily self therapies, I have gained a tremendous amount of pain relief.  I am now beginning to enjoy being a mom for the first time in 2 years and am able to take care of my son independently.  I am starting to exercise and slowly feeling normal again!  I no longer have any pain with intercourse and my painful periods have been gone away since childbirth.  SD

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