Urinary Incontinence (UI) is the involuntary loss of urine. If you’re one of the millions of women suffering from urinary incontinence, know that you are not alone. Remember that urinary incontinence is not a disease in itself, but a symptom of another problem. As women, our bodies go through a lot as we age, and sometimes that stress can lead to urinary leakage issues.
Some of the risk factors for UI are:
- Chronic Constipation
- Excess weight
Whether you are suffering from stress incontinence (leakage that happens when you sneeze, cough, laugh, exercise, lift or any other movement) or urge incontinence (often termed “overactive bladder” due to the sudden urge to urinate), or a mixture of both, physical therapy may be a good option for you.
But how can a physical therapist help me with UI?
Physical therapists trained in pelvic floor dysfunction can assess and address the physical reasons for your symptoms. Whether it’s pelvic floor weakness in need of strengthening or a bladder that contracts when it shouldn’t and needs retraining, physical therapists trained to treat UI will walk you through every step of your rehab.
What will treatment look like?
The type of incontinence you are experiencing will determine what treatment may look like. Your first visit will likely include a lot of conversation. We want to know what and when your symptoms are most likely to be a problem. An internal pelvic exam may be beneficial in order to determine if you suffer from pelvic floor weakness or tender points in your pelvic floor muscles. All of this information is important in determining the best course of treatment. You may be asked to begin keeping a “bladder diary” for a few days to help both you and your physical therapist pinpoint any triggers or bad habits that may have developed over time and might be contributing to your UI.
Can’t I just do my Kegels and skip the PT?
Of course doing your Kegels may be a good idea, but they aren’t always the best course of action. Many women, unfortunately, aren’t doing their pelvic strengthening exercises properly or holding the contractions long enough. Some women are doing too many Kegels and need to work more on muscle relaxation. That’s right! Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Same goes for pelvic floor exercise. A physical therapist can assess this and help you better understand which exercises are right for you.