Incontinence is the loss of the ability to control one's bladder. Depending on the severity of the condition, a patient can occassionally leak urine during certain scenarios like coughing or sneezing, or have a condition where controlling one's bladder is involuntary.
25 million adult Americans suffer from incontinence. Urinary incontinence may occur in elite athletes, during and after pregnancies, post-op, after abdominal, hip, pelvic, and prostate surgeries. Urinary incontinence becomes more common as men and women age. Urinary leakage can include stress, urge, or mixed incontinence and can occur after a prostatectomy in men. Other causes can include weak pelvic floor, deep abdominal muscles, and painful conditions.
There are several different types of urinary incontinence which can cause patients to lose the ability to control one's bladder including stress incontinence, urge incontinence, functional incontinence, overflow incontinence, and mixed incontinence. In addition, there are different types of temporary urinary incompentence which can be the result of a different change in diet, medications, or diuretics. Each one of these different types of urinary incontinence can have different causes.
Symptoms may include involuntary loss of urine with sneezing, coughing, laughing, and any strenuous activity such as running, jumping, and lifting. Leakage may also occur with a strong urge to urinate.
Your Physical Therapist will perform a thorough exam consisting of your symptoms to determine the cause as well as an assessment of hip, pelvis and lumbar spine muscles and coordination. Your Physical Therapist may also refer you to a physician for further tests to determine if there are any underlying conditions contributing to your symptoms.
Your Physical Therapist will help you learn how to control your pelvic muscles as well as provide an individualized exercise program for improved muscle control. Treatments may also include Kegal exercises, Biofeedback, electrical stimulation, and manual therapy to hip, pelvis, and lumbar spine. Recovery depends on the severity of each case, but can range from a few weeks to several months. Typically the sooner you are seen by and Physical Therapist, the sooner the recovery.
Bio-feedback, muscle re-training, strengthening, core stabilization, bladder re-training, and electrical stimulation, and patient education have proven very effective in treating incontinence.
Patients can work to prevent their incontinence by adding pelvic exercises into their daily lives. With the help of a physical therapist, patients can be educated on potential bladder control issues and lifestyle changes they can make to alleviate their urinary incontinence including dietary changes, bathroom schedules, and exercise programs.