Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine (Abrams et al, 2003). Thirteen million people of all ages have urinary incontinence, and anyone can get incontinence! Fantl et al (1996) found that incontinence effects 4 out of 10 women, 1 out of 10 men and 17% of children below the age of 15. Even elite athletes have a prevalence of urinary incontinence of 41% (Fantl et al, 1996). Even though the prevalence is high, we want you to know that you do not have to suffer with incontinence!
What Are The Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The pelvic floor muscles attach to the bottom of the pelvis to create a "floor" for our internal organs. They support these organs and help stop the flow of urine and the passage of gas. They also assist in normal sexual function.
TYPES OF URINARY INCONTINENCE
STRESS INCONTINENCE - Urine loss while coughing, sneezing, lifting, laughing, or participating in other physical activities.
URGE INCONTINENCE – Strong or sudden urge to urinate with the inability to make it to the toilet on time.
MIXED INCONTINENCE – A combination of stress and urge incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is caused by changes in the urinary tract that often result from pregnancy, changes in hormones (menopause), surgery, trauma (pelvic fracture), diseases, weakness of the pelvic floor muscles and/or use of certain medications, food or beverages. Untreated, urinary incontinence can increase the chance of skin irritation, urinary infection, social isolation, depression and embarrassment.
How can therapy help?
Therapy can help you understand why this is happening to you! After a thorough assessment from the PT, including looking at posture, movement patterns, hips, low back and muscle activation they will be able to guide you in an individualized program to teach you how to locate and strengthen your muscles, so they can function normally. Active participation in therapy can lead to improved muscle function, strength, and flexibility. By teaching you “optimal strategies of function and performance” we will ensure preservation of continence and organ support (Lee & Lee, 2011). Physical therapy is found to improve incontinence, reduce use of pads worn in your underwear and allow you to get back to a life you can enjoy without leaking!
What should I expect when I go to therapy?
Expect help! Once you have scheduled your first appointment with us, we will need to gather important information to ensure we provide you with the best possible care. A patient information packet will need to be completed and provided to our staff when you arrive for your first appointment. The patient information packet will include a description of what to expect, as well as a patient history questionnaire. Your patient information packet can be mailed to your home or downloaded here.
After a thorough evaluation has been performed, you and your therapist will develop a treatment program. This program may include:
a bladder schedule to improve
education on bladder function and its relationship to the pelvic floor muscles
Screening of the hips, ribs, back, and abdomen to understand the complete mechanics of why urinary incontinence is occurring
biofeedback of the pelvic floor muscles as needed to relearn how to strengthen and improve muscle function
home exercise program
You will be asked to complete a bladder diary for 3 days prior to the first appointment. This requires documenting amounts and type of food and fluid intake and well as voiding patterns. You will be surprised to notice patterns you didn’t realize you had. This is also very important information for your therapist. We kindly request that you have the bladder diary completed before your first visit.
Each person has unique and different needs, requiring varying amounts of time and visits for therapy. Your plan of care will be based on your individual needs. The average patient requires anywhere from 6-10 visits. In addition to clinic visits, you will receive exercises and instructions for things that you can do in the privacy of your home. For more information visit Frequently Asked Questions.