Urinary incontinence is when a person loses the ability to control their bladder or urination.
The issue is common, yet many people silently struggle with it due to embarrassment or the belief that it’s just a result of aging.
If urinary incontinence is affecting the life of you or a loved one, there are treatments available.
In this article, we’ll discuss pelvic floor therapy for incontinence, which can help strengthen or retrain the pelvic floor muscles to improve bladder function.
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence isn’t a disease, but a symptom of another condition.
When urinary incontinence occurs, a person may leak urine when they cough, sneeze, laugh or lift something.
They also may feel a sudden, strong urge to urinate, but be unable to make it to the restroom in time.
The Kensington White Plains is hosting a special two-part virtual series on women’s health and wellness. Part two on Oct. 13 explores the treatment options for bladder and bowel issues, including pelvic floor physical therapy.
Urinary incontinence may have a temporary cause, such as caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, artificial sweeteners, or certain medications or medical conditions.
It also may be a result of physical changes in the body, such as menopause or an enlarged prostate. Tune into our upcoming informative virtual webinar focused on the ins and outs of menopause, what to expect, how to prepare, and what to do if you experience abnormal symptoms.
Let’s take a look at the most common types of urinary incontinence.
Stress incontinence occurs when the pressure from a cough, sneezing, laughing, or other exertion causes urine to leak from the bladder.
Urge incontinence is when a person feels a strong urge to urinate and is unable to control the urge. It is the result of the bladder abnormally contracting as it fills.
Functional incontinence occurs when another health issue interferes with a person’s ability to make it to the restroom in time. For example, chronic pain may make it difficult for a person to move quickly enough.
Mixed incontinence is more than one type of urinary incontinence occurring at the same time. Many people experience both stress and urge incontinence.
Urinary incontinence isn’t just an annoyance, but something that can significantly interfere with a person’s life.
They may begin to isolate themselves because they’re afraid to have an accident in someone else’s company, or it may increase the risk of a fall if a person is always needing to rush to the bathroom.
It also can result in urinary tract infections (UTIs) or skin rashes.
Can incontinence be treated with physical therapy?
The treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the cause, but physical therapy in the form of pelvic floor exercises can be helpful for managing certain types of incontinence.
Women are at a higher risk of developing stress incontinence due to their anatomy. Pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause all can contribute to the development of urinary incontinence.
Pelvic floor physical therapy helps strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which can reduce leakage due to stress on the bladder or weakness of the muscles around the urethra.
A woman’s pelvic organs include the bladder, urethra, uterus, and rectum. Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor can help women both relax and contract these muscles, which can improve bladder function.
Benefits of pelvic floor physical therapy
Pelvic floor physical therapy includes a variety of therapies and exercises designed to improve the symptoms of urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, or any condition resulting in pain or weakness in the pelvic floor organs.
Pelvic floor treatment for incontinence might include:
- Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor exercises, which help strengthen the muscles controlling urination
- Biofeedback, which analyzes your pelvic floor muscles and how you are using them
- Electrical stimulation, which can help you understand your muscle functions
- Bladder training, which can help you train your bladder with the use of a schedule, and navigating the urges to urinate between bathroom visits
It may also include other exercises or stretches to support weak pelvic floor muscles.
The Kensington White Plains offers physical therapy for bladder health as a part of our extensive rehabilitation services.
Your physical therapist will work with you one-on-one to learn more about your specific treatment needs and create a plan just for you to address your unique circumstances.
Consistent, long-term pelvic floor muscle training has been found to reduce stress urinary incontinence in women.
Can urinary incontinence be prevented?
Pelvic floor physical therapy may help prevent future urinary incontinence, but depending on the root cause, there may be other prevention methods as well.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can develop as a result of the following factors:
- Pregnancy or childbirth
- Trauma to the pelvic area
- Overuse of the pelvic floor muscles
- Pelvic floor weakening due to age
As a result, practicing pelvic floor muscle exercises, maintaining a healthy diet and weight, and an overall healthier, more active lifestyle may help keep the pelvic floor muscles strong.
Also, if you struggle with any of the temporary causes of urinary incontinence, such as too much caffeine, alcohol, or other bladder irritants, cutting down on these irritants can help relieve symptoms.
It’s important to be able to overcome any embarrassment surrounding urinary incontinence in order to receive proper treatment.
It’s much more common than you may think, and the consequences of not seeking medical attention from a doctor and physical therapist can far outweigh the embarrassment.
The Kensington White Plains offers comprehensive rehabilitation services
As we age, navigating daily life can gradually become more cumbersome, and nagging health issues such as urinary incontinence are tough to navigate on our own.
Moving to an assisted living community can offer a higher quality of life for seniors. Assisted living expertly combines medical care and assistance with a full calendar of fun and engaging life enrichment opportunities.
At The Kensington White Plains, we combine all these services for our residents. Our team members Promise to love and care for you and your family as we do our own, and this Promise is executed throughout all aspects of our care.
At The Kensington White Plains, you or your loved one can truly “age in place,” no matter how your care needs change over time.
Reach out to our loving team today to learn more about how we can assist a loved one experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction or any of the other ways we can enrich and improve their quality of life.