A physical therapist is highly skilled in evaluating and treating various musculoskeletal and neurological conditions affecting the body. This profession focuses on assessing any underlying factors, such as strength, neuromuscular control, balance, coordination, skeletal alignment, and endurance, which may be contributing to impaired functional mobility, activity, participation, and quality of life.
Of course, most people only seek physical therapy when they’re suffering from a common injury or condition, such as whiplash, tendinitis, lower back pain, or ligament sprains. Perhaps lesser known is that chronic pelvic pain and dysfunction, especially issues with incontinence, can respond positively to physical therapy intervention.
“Urinary incontinence” is a technical term for leaking urine by accident. It is a common condition in more elderly demographics, especially elderly women, and also post-partum, although it can happen to anyone for a number of reasons. Fortunately, urinary incontinence can be controlled and/or cured with the help of physical therapy. If you have been struggling with urinary incontinence and you are looking for help, contact Fitness Matters today to schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated Columbus, OH physical therapists.
Why am I experiencing urinary incontinence?
There are several reasons why someone may leak urine despite their control. Some short-term urinary incontinence may develop and disappear on its own due to a temporary condition, such as a urinary tract infection, vaginal infection, or constipation. Certain medications can even cause temporary bladder control problems that should clear up after use. However, if your urinary incontinence persists, it may be due to a larger underlying condition, such as:
- Weak bladder muscles
- Overactive bladder muscles
- Damaged bladder nerves, typically from diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson’s
- Blockage from an enlarged prostate
- Difficulty getting to the bathroom in time, due to diseases such as arthritis
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Benign prostate hyperplasia
- Damaged pelvic floor nerves, due to injury or surgery
In addition to the different ways in which urinary incontinence can be caused, there are also different types of urinary incontinence that can occur. The different types of urinary incontinence include:
- Stress incontinence. Stress incontinence is caused when one experiences a urine leak due to pressure on the bladder. For example, stress incontinence can occur when exercising, lifting heavy objects, laughing, coughing, or sneezing. This is the most common type of bladder control problem in younger to middle-aged women, and it may occur around the time of menopause.
- Urge incontinence. Urge incontinence is caused when there is a sudden and emergent need to urinate. Someone experiencing urge incontinence may not have enough time to make it to the toilet before leakage occurs. This type of bladder control problems is usually a result of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.
- Overflow incontinence. Overflow incontinence is caused by a bladder that is always full, thus causing leakage to occur. For example, if a man has an enlarged prostate that is blocking his urethra, it can be difficult to empty the bladder. Other conditions, such as diabetes and spinal cord injuries, can also cause this type of bladder control problem.
- Functional incontinence. Functional incontinence is caused when people have a condition that makes it hard to move to the bathroom quickly enough before leakage occurs. People with functional incontinence actually have normal bladder control; however, they have an alternative condition (such as arthritis) that makes it difficult to move and thus results in leakage if they cannot make it to the toilet in time.
If you are experiencing persistent urinary incontinence that has been occurring for several weeks or months, contact our Columbus, OH physical therapy office as soon as possible to seek help.
How will physical therapy help with my urinary incontinence?
At Fitness Matters, we know that living with urinary incontinence can be limiting – and even embarrassing at times, especially when it occurs during a social setting. Our Columbus, OH pelvic floor physical therapists are dedicated to improving your pelvic health, quality of life, and socialization, so you can get back to living your very best life.
When you arrive for your initial appointment, one of our pelvic health physical therapists will perform a physical examination to determine the strength of your pelvic floor. Your physical exam, along with an evaluation of your medical history and discussion of your symptoms, will help in determining the best route for your treatment plan. Typical treatments for those struggling with urinary incontinence typically includes:
- Increasing strength, stability, and endurance of the core, transverse abdominals, hip muscles, and pelvic floor.
- Increasing synergy and pattern of muscle firing between the pelvic floor and core.
- The use of biofeedback for pelvic floor training and re-education.
- Performing strengthening exercises in functional and dynamic positions.
- Improving posture/positions.
- Modifying diet.
- Keeping a bladder diary and log.
- Participating in an exercising/walking/mobility program.
- Participating in functional activities.
- Participating in a home exercise program and instruction.
For Alzheimer’s patients struggling with urinary incontinence, there are training programs that their caregivers can partake in, in order to try and make urinary incontinence less likely and life much easier. It is common for those suffering from Alzheimer’s to also struggle with urinary incontinence for several reasons. For example, urinary incontinence may result from a lack of realization that urination is occurring, forgetting that one needs to urinate, or not being able to find the bathroom. These programs provide helpful tips for caregivers, such as:
- Avoiding giving out caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea, and sodas, as these increase urination. However, do not limit water.
- Keeping pathways to the bathroom clear and the bathroom itself clutter-free to allow for easy access. Make sure to keep the bathroom light on at all times to make it easier to find.
- Making sure you provide regular bathroom breaks. Giving gentle reminders to use the bathroom may also be helpful, as Alzheimer’s patients may not realize how long it has been since their last urination.
- Supplying underwear that is easy to get on and off.
- Supplying absorbent underclothes for trips away from home, in case an accident occurs.
What should I do if I’m experiencing bowel incontinence?
Approximately 13 million Americans are incontinent. Oftentimes, the cause of incontinence is aging. The body’s muscles just don’t work as well as they used to. However, it is possible for anyone to experience incontinence for various reasons.
Fortunately, physical therapy treatment can improve pelvic-floor muscle function. Incontinence is a common condition that may be caused by an underlying condition, but the most common reason it goes untreated is due to embarrassment.
For prevention of bowel incontinence, one of the most important things you can do is attend your yearly physicals. Attending yearly physicals and being honest with your doctor, no matter how embarrassed you may feel, is the best way to treat or avoid this condition worsening. With a physical therapist, you can work together to create a treatment plan that will correct this condition. Many Columbus, OH physical therapists will perform pelvic floor therapy to treat bowel incontinence and the results are resoundingly successful with most patients.
Treating bowel incontinence
Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, known as pelvic floor rehabilitation, can help people who are living with bowel incontinence. In many cases, pelvic floor exercises may be combined with biofeedback techniques, in order to determine if the exercises are being performed properly.
Mild to moderate cases of common types of incontinence can be greatly improved or even cured by behavioral or exercise therapy. We can also teach you habits and techniques to control your incontinence. Even periodic incontinence is not something you have to live with – we can help!
If you, or someone you are caring for, are struggling with urinary incontinence and you are looking for help, contact us at Fitness Matters today to schedule an appointment. One of our Columbus, OH pelvic floor physical therapists will get you started on the path toward urinary control and relief.