Urine incontinence is a common medical condition that most people ignore. There are many reasons why this problem is under-treated. It includes lack of knowledge about the disease and its treatments, embarrassment to talk about it, and acceptance of this problem as a sign of aging.
However, about 24% to 60% of women suffering from this problem seek medical treatment. Explore this expert guide for a brief overview of how physical therapy helps in treating incontinence issues rapidly.
Explore the Types of Incontinence in Human Bodies?
Many people are unable to control and prevent urine from leakage. When this problem starts happening often, it is known as urinary incontinence. Many people consider it a sign of aging, but it is just a misconception. It can appear at any age, and many physical conditions can lead to this problem.
Many factors like weakness of pelvic floor muscles (that support to the urethra), rectum, and vagina can cause prolapse of urinary bladder, rectum, or uterus_ urine leakage. Several reasons can cause weakening of pelvic floor muscles, including childbirth, pregnancy, obesity, chronic coughing, estrogen deficiency, chronic constipation, improper lifting, etc.
Therefore, understanding and knowledge of different types of incontinence can help get proper medical treatment. However, a person can exhibit one or more symptoms of urinary incontinence from other classifications.
- Symptom of Urinary Incontinence: Involuntary urine leakage
- Symptoms of Mixed Urinary Incontinence: Involuntary urine leakage accompanied with urgency. Also, with sneezing, coughing, and physical effort and exertion.
- Symptoms of Overactive Bladder Syndrome (OAB): Strong urge to urinate is associated with nocturia and frequency accompanied with or without urine incontinence. It happens in the absence of urinary tract pathogens and infection.
How Incontinence Affects Men and Women Both?
It is observed that the problem of incontinence affects women twice as much as men. However, other issues like overactive bladder, bladder leakage can happen to anyone at any stage of age. Most people don’t consider it a severe problem and leave it under-treated. It can lead to severe incontinence issues.
The most prevalent cause of urinary incontinence is damage or weakening of pelvic floor muscles. In men, the reason for incontinence after removal of the prostate is due to prostate cancer. Women can experience incontinence during pregnancy or even after childbirth. Another big reason for this problem in women is menopause, as you can lose some muscle mass.
Urinary incontinence is classified into many different types. However, the most commonly experienced types are urge incontinence and stress incontinence.
● Urge Incontinence
It is one of the most commonly experienced types of incontinence. It happens when there is some muscle spasm or malfunctioning in the urinary bladder. It controls the strong urge to urinate. You can experience leakage before getting to a toilet.
● Stress Incontinence:
Stress incontinence happens due to increased pressure in your abdomen or at the pelvic muscle floor region. The pressure can be due to cough, sneezing, or improper lifting. Strong physical activities like jumping, lifting, etc., can also lead to urine leakage if you have stress incontinence.
● Mixed Incontinence
Mixed incontinence arises when you experience leakage of urine from both stress and urge incontinence. It is more likely to happen in women due to bladder control problems.
However, urine incontinence is not the only bladder problem that both men and women can experience. There are two other common problems associated with the bladder: frequency and urgency.
Frequent urination is a medical term associated with how often you go to the toilet to urinate in one day. It is considered normal if you go to the bathroom somewhere between four to six times or even eight times a day.
At night you need to sleep without having an urge to go to the toilet. But occasionally, you might feel like getting up once to urinate at night. If you stay within these ranges, you have good bladder health. But if you get up more than twice at night to use the toilet, that is high frequency.
Urinary urgency is a sudden issue in urinating, and you need to use the toilet right now. You don’t get any prior warning. The only problem of urge is a severe bladder issue. It becomes urine incontinence when experiencing urine leakage along with it.
Risk Factors That Are Noticed About Urinary Incontinence:
Other than the reasons mentioned above, some risk factors can lead to urine incontinence. It includes obesity, aging, smoking, and high consumption of carbonated drinks and alcohol. In the case of men, additional UI risk factors include changing or weakening pelvic floor muscles due to prostatic surgery.
However, there are several other UI risk factors for women, including pregnancy, childbirth, episiotomy, menopause, and giving birth more than three times. Women experience weakening of pelvic muscle during all these stages.
How Will Incontinence Be Diagnosed?
Your physical therapist will conduct a complete check-up to determine the causes of your urinary incontinence. A therapist can ask you to describe symptoms that you feel.
They may run a check-up of the hip, pelvis, and lower back muscles as well as the flexibility, strength, and coordination of your pelvic floor muscles.
You might be referred to a physician for further additional tests, including MRI to diagnose any pelvic floor muscle issue, diagnostic ultrasound, and urodynamic testing to get an accurate idea of your problem.
However, urinary incontinence is a common problem among people worldwide. It can be treated by using many medical approaches, including physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you manage incontinence through low-risk exercises along with surgical and pharmacological treatments.
If you think you can get better with physical therapy, you can ask your medical physician about the physical therapist. Ensure to get medical assistance through a physical therapist who has received special training in this field.
How Can Physical Therapy Treat the Issues of Incontinence at Initial Stages?
The main reason for urinary incontinence and bladder issues is damage or weakening of pelvic floor muscles. It is just a common reason for incontinence in most people. Other factors like muscle imbalance and coordination are also contributing reasons for incontinence. Physical therapy treatment can help you to solve all these problems associated with urinary incontinence.
You can visit a physical therapist for treatment of your incontinence and other bladder issues. The physical therapist conducts a complete examination to find the exact cause of your problem. After diagnosis, your therapist can customize a particular exercise plan according to your condition. You can benefit from relaxation exercises, bladder retraining exercises.
You might need to strengthen your pelvic muscles, improve body posture to reduce pressure on pelvic muscles. The muscles around your hip and pelvic floor are actual muscles that control the flow of urine. Physical therapy can help you to provide some strength to your pelvic floor and muscles around your hip.
However, it is not that easy to target pelvic floor muscles through conventional physical training and exercises.
Recent Research About the Physical Therapy Solutions:
A recent research study concluded that pelvic floor exercises could help reduce symptoms of OAB, urinate frequency, leakage, and urge.
A reputed source conducted a study in 2016 to study the effect of physical therapy on pelvic muscles. It found that pelvic floor exercise accompanied with biofeedback is significantly helpful in reducing incontinence problems. Moreover, it is found effective in improving the life quality of participants within nine weeks of physical therapy sessions.
Another study found that physical therapy is an effective treatment of incontinence. It is especially found to be significantly helpful for the treatment of incontinence symptoms. It includes nocturia, urinary leakage, frequent urge to get to the toilet, and other symptoms related to incontinence.
A review of several pelvic floor muscle studies physical training effectively aids in treating symptoms of incontinence. It significantly reduces urinary frequency, urinary urgency, leakage, and pelvic muscle weakness. Moreover, the researcher of this study believes that there are needs for high-quality methods to improve research results.
How Kegel Exercise Helps in Treating Incontinence:
A Kegel exercise means contraction of your pelvic floor muscles. There can be multiple benefits if you do it regularly. It can help you to build stronger and deeper pelvic floor muscles. Despite the fact men and women have different anatomy, it is equally beneficial for both of them.
The first step of the Kegel exercise is to locate the pelvic floor muscles in your body. You can do so by holding your urination in midstream or stopping back gas. It is the pelvic floor muscles at work. After locating, lie down to do proper exercise steps.
- Contract and lift your pelvic floor muscles
- Hold the same position for three seconds.
- Relax and release your pelvic floor muscles for three seconds.
Kegel exercise becomes easier when you perform it while lying. But you can do it anytime, anywhere, whether you are preparing a meal or resting on the couch. You should do 10 seconds and ten sets of exercises every day. As your pelvic floor becomes more vital, increase the contraction and relaxation timing from three seconds.
The Process to Coordinate Your Body Core Muscles in Pelvic Therapy:
Once you have located your pelvic muscles accurately, you can start working on their coordination with other inner core muscles. Our inner core consists of the diaphragm and deep abdominal muscles. The pelvic floor muscles work together to control adnominal pressure. You can start diaphragm breathing practice to coordinate your inner core muscles with pelvic muscles.
- Lie down in a relaxed posture.
- Hold a breath in and focus on the expansion of your abdomen and lower ribcage. During this process, slowly let go of your Kegel.
- You slowly compress your pelvic muscles as your abdomen, and the lower rib cage returns to their position when you breathe out.
- Ensure not to over-engage your abdominal muscles in this exercise. Keep your breathing process relaxed and quiet.
You can experience the effect in a few weeks or months with regular Kegel and diaphragm breathing training. Once you learn contraction and coordination of your pelvic muscles and inner core, you can quickly stop sudden urine urge due to sneezing, coughing, etc.
Why Should Every Patient Seek Help from a Physical Therapist for Treating Incontinence?
It is the most popular question that arises in the mind of many people. Our pelvic floor is made up of muscles responsible for providing support and controlling bladder and bowel movement. Physical therapists are expert health care providers. They are appropriately trained to be musculoskeletal experts. Some PTs specifically get training in pelvic floor muscles.
The problems associated with dysfunction of pelvic floor muscles can happen in the muscles around the pelvic floor or surrounding organs. Thus, a physical therapist can help you to address symptoms of incontinence by an exercise treatment plan. They are properly trained to evaluate and treat pelvic muscle dysfunction.
Other Recommended Treatments for the Recovery of Incontinence:
In 2019, The American Urological Association recommended behavioral treatments such as physical therapy to treat incontinence effectively. You might get other treatments like medication along with physical therapy treatment. If you cannot control over your bladder through physical therapy, your physician can suggest some medicines. Other than physical therapy, other recommended treatments for incontinence recovery include:
Sacral Nerve Stimulation:
It is an incontinence recovery treatment that is done at the doctor’s office. It is performed to regulate the nerve signals that carry the impulse to the urinary bladder. In this medical treatment, your doctor set a small device similar to a pacemaker at your lower back. This device delivers electrical signals to the sacral nerves.
Anticholinergic medications are the drugs that block a chemical in your body. The primary function of this chemical is to send an impulse to your bladder to contract. Some common anticholinergic drugs include:
- Botox: Small doses of Botox weaken or paralyze bladder muscles to avoid overactive bladder.
If you don’t experience any change in your problem, your physician might suggest surgery. The surgical treatments that your physician can include:
- Bladder Lift Surgery: It can help to support bladder muscles. Doctors can recommend it if you are experiencing urinary leakage (incontinence).
- Augmentation Cystoplasty: It is a surgical treatment that is done to increase the size of the bladder so that your bladder can store more urine.
- Urinary Diversion: In this surgical treatment, the tube leading from your kidney to your urinary bladder is redirected directly from the abdominal cavity to an external pouch where urine is collected. In extreme incontinence cases, your doctor can also recommend removing the bladder.
Globally, many people are suffering from a common bladder problem known as Urinary incontinence. It means a person doesn’t have any hold on the urinary sphincter. In this condition, the person loses urine when they don’t want to or before going to the toilet.
Many people don’t take it seriously and leave it untreated. According to the American Urological Association, one-quarter to one-third of women and men are experiencing incontinence problems in the US. It is a more commonly found issue in women as compared to men.
Physical therapy can help you to solve the issue of urinary incontinence and reduce symptoms. A physical therapist can guide you about different exercises that will help you to control your bladder. An expert physical therapist can teach customized exercise plans according to your problem.
If you still experience the issue of incontinence, visit your physician and discuss it in detail. You might need to combine physical therapy with other medical treatments such as medication and different treatment ways.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How does a physical therapist help with incontinence?
Your physical therapist can help you with the treatment of incontinence symptoms. They will teach you how to feel the movement of pelvic muscles by releasing and contracting them. Moreover, your therapist will customize a particular treatment plan as per your needs. It will help to improve the functioning of pelvic floor muscles and control bladder activity.
Is physical therapy effective for incontinence treatment?
Yes, physical therapy is a reliable treatment for reducing incontinence symptoms. It tones up your pelvic floor muscles to get improved functioning of the bladder. It ultimately reduces urinary incontinence.
Which physical therapy exercise is effective for reducing stress incontinence?
When it comes to treating symptoms of stress incontinence, pelvic floor muscle exercise is the best solution. It is an effective treatment of stress incontinence without any surgery or medication.
Is pelvic floor exercise effective for reducing incontinence symptoms?
The lifting and strengthening of pelvic floor muscles is the ultimate solution to reduce signs of incontinence. If you regularly practice pelvic floor exercise, it can help you to reduce stress incontinence and improve your quality of life.