You can do something about Incontinence!

Incontinence, involuntary loss of bladder control … “accidents.”  These words describe a physical condition that affects an estimated 13 million Americans every day.  Both men and women, young and old, can experience some form of urinary incontinence that can make them feel ashamed and isolated.  Worse yet is the feeling of not having control over your own body, the feeling that somehow you can no longer depend on it functioning the way it did before. For some people it seems just too embarrassing to confide in someone about your “problem”, even a health care provider. The truth is there’s no need to feel this way. Physical therapists can help. With the right kind of treatment, you can get your bladder control problem back under control. This brochure will help you understand what incontinence is and the different kinds of physical therapy options available to manage this condition, or, in many cases, regain complete continence.

What exactly is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence means you lose urine when you don’t want to.  Along with leakage, there may be other symptoms:
– Urgency: A strong desire to urinate, even when the bladder is not full. This is sometimes accompanied by pelvic discomfort or pressure.
– Frequency: Urinating more than 6 to 8 times a day or more than once every two hours (with normal fluid intake).
– Nocturnal: Awakening from sleep because of the urge to urinate.  This can vary with age and is not necessarily abnormal unless it occurs regularly more than two or three times a night.

Treating Urinary Incontinence

Knowing that you can do something about incontinence – that you don’t have to learn to live with it – puts you on the regaining control over your bladder.  First -and this is the hardest step for most people to take- you must discuss your problem with a healthcare professional. It is important to find a healthcare practitioner who is knowledgeable in evaluating and treating incontinence.  Get thorough examination from your physician to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing your loss of bladder control. The initial screening should include your health history regarding incontinence, a physical examination, including pelvic exam, analysis of your urine and a measurement of the amount of urine left in your bladder after you urinate. Then you will be ready for the next step – an individualized treatment program that works best for your type of incontinence.

Treatments for Urinary Incontinence can include:

– Education about the bladder, pelvic floor muscles and normal emptying techniques
– Bladder restraining and timed schedules for urinating
– Exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles
– Medication to treat infection,replace hormones, stop abnormal bladder muscle contractions, or tighten sphincter muscles
– Dietary modifications
– Surgery to correct bladder position

EMG / Biofeedback

EMG/biofeedback: The therapist places an electrode over the
pelvic floor muscle and this “reads” the activity in your
muscle. A wire connects the electrode to a monitor and you may
watch yourself contracting the muscles on the screen. You learn
how much to squeeze, when to let go, how many exercises to do
and you can see yourself improve in a few weeks.

Electrical Stimulation

Electrical stimulation of the pelvic floor muscles: gentle
electrical stimulation over the pelvic floor muscles helps the
muscles to contract and may also help the bladder to be less
irritable. Most types of bladder control problems benefit from
a customized intervention program that emphasizes strengthening
the pelvic floor muscles. This is another area in which
physical therapist can help.

How physical therapists can help

Physical therapists use a variety of methods to help their clients correct pelvic floor weakness. Your physical therapist will teach you how to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which may prevent the onset of incontinence or help reverse the process. She will evaluate the extent of your incontinence, identify treatment goals, and make sure you understand how your treatment works – now and in the future.
Physical therapists and they also offer some tips on lifestyle changes that will help the bladder be less irritable. These suggestions include:
– lifting and moving correctly
– Bracing the pelvic floor muscles when you cough, laugh, or sneeze
– Avoiding common bladder irritants
– Keeping a bladder diary to promote normal urinating habits
– Exercising correctly and avoiding improper sit-up techniques

The next step is up to you.  Are you ready to regain control of your life?  Speak to a physical therapist about your condition.