Incontinence & Pelvic Pain
Millions of people suffer from involuntary loss of bladder or bowel contents. This condition, called incontinence, affects people of all ages and often leads to embarrassment, avoidance of social activities, decreased physical activity, depression, and can even interfere with employment. Methodist Fremont Health offers help for bladder or bowel control problems through physical therapy facilitated by specially trained physical therapists.
There are several types of urinary incontinence, but in general, incontinence refers to the leakage of urine at inappropriate times.
The leakage of small amounts of urine when there is increased pressure on the bladder. This can happen with exercise or with sneezing, coughing, lifting or other activities. Women with stress incontinence often have “under active” pelvic floor muscles. Causes of underactive pelvic floor muscles include:
- Pregnancy and Childbirth
- Injury or trauma
- Surgery in the vagina or rectum
- Episiotomy (during childbirth)
- Lack of exercise and lack of use
The leakage of medium to large amounts of urine when a person feels a sudden strong urge to urinate. Some of the possible causes of urge incontinence are:
- Poor sensation and not being aware that the bladder is full
- Neurologic problems such as stroke
- Enlarged prostate in men
- Malfunction of the bladder
How can physical therapy treat urinary incontinence?
Because many symptoms of urinary incontinence are caused by pelvic floor muscle weakness and dysfunction, a specially-trained women’s health physical therapist is the ideal provider to help you gain control over your symptoms. (Many treat men with urinary incontinence as well). Physical therapists use their specialized medical training to completely evaluate and design a treatment program that is individualized for each patient.
Physical therapy can:
- Give you control over your life and your bladder
- Save money and embarrassment by allowing less use of pads and undergarments
- Reduce use of medications for incontinence
- Possibly prevent the need for surgery
Physical therapy treatment may include:
- Education on diet and nutrition to avoid food and drinks that may irritate the bladder
- Advice on how to change behaviors that make symptoms worse
- Techniques to help you find the right muscles and learn to use them correctly
- Pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles
- Exercises to stretch and strengthen other important muscles
- Ways to decrease urinary urge and frequency
- Biofeedback that shows you how your muscles are working
- Electrical stimulation to improve awareness and strength of the muscles