What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence, or leaking even a small amount of urine, is an extremely common but troublesome problem. In general, it is more common in women, especially those who have given birth. Urinary incontinence, if left unaddressed, can lead people to stop doing the things they love, to develop unhappy habits such as avoiding exercising or not drinking enough fluids, to feel unnecessary shame, and sometimes even to get surgery to address it.
What causes urinary incontinence?
There are different types of urinary incontinence, each caused by something different:
Stress urinary incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence occurs during specific activities that “stress” the bladder and pelvic floor muscles. Examples are coughing, sneezing, laughing, and jumping, among many others. During these activities, leaking will occur if the forces down on the bladder are stronger than the force the pelvic floor muscles are able to exert. In other words, stress incontinence usually happens because there is relative weakness in the pelvic floor muscles.
Urge urinary incontinence
Urge urinary incontinence occurs when the urge to urinate is so strong and uncontrollable that people leak before they are able to make it to the bathroom. This can happen for a number of reasons, including increased intake of bladder irritants, poor fluid intake and/or bladder habits, psychosocial factors, and increased tension in the pelvic floor muscles.
Mixed urinary incontinence
This is a combination of stress and urge incontinence. Usually the main underlying pelvic floor muscle impairment with mixed incontinence is increased tension in the muscles, which causes them to not function properly.
What can be done for urinary incontinence?
Pelvic floor physical therapy to the rescue.
Pelvic floor physical therapy has been shown time and time again to help improve symptoms of urinary incontinence. Pelvic floor PTs can assess the pelvic floor muscles to help determine the underlying cause of incontinence (i.e. weak pelvic floor muscles, tense pelvic floor muscles, or both). Based on the findings from the pelvic floor assessment, your pelvic floor PT will teach you how to address them. Your pelvic floor PT will also look at other factors such as your fluid intake and urinary habits, your overall strength and flexibility, your body mechanics, and your breathing mechanics. Once impairments that are likely contributing to urinary incontinence are identified, your pelvic floor PT will teach you how to address those as well.
If you experience urinary incontinence, then you could definitely benefit from pelvic floor PT. Call us at 857-267-6033 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and to schedule an evaluation.