Incontinence, or leaking of urine, can affect anyone. There are different types of incontinence, including “stress” and “urge” incontinence. Both of thesediagnoses require the help of a pelvic floor therapist to get you symptom free and living the life you deserve.
– losing urine when the pelvic floor muscles (or muscles in the groin area) is stressed, such as during coughing, laughing, sneezing, running, and lifting.
– unable to hold urine when you get a strong urge to urinate. Certain triggers or drinks/foods can create a stronger urge to urinate. Triggers can include anything leading up to urinating, such as walking into your home, opening the bathroom door, etc.
Causes of stress incontinenceinclude pelvic floor muscle weakness or shortening. For example, when a woman gives birth vaginally, pelvic floor muscles are stretched, cut, and/or torn during delivery. This results in weakness of the pelvic floor muscles – the muscles that are responsible for support of our organs, including the bladder. This can also be the case for women who have never given birth or had a child years ago. Just like any other muscles in the body, when the muscle is not worked, it gets weak.
When pelvic floor muscles are shortened, or in a contracted state (spasm) for a long period of time, the muscles become weak and cannot do their job. Spasms can occur in pelvic floor muscles for anyone, whether due to urinary habits, back pain, hip pain, etc.
Urge incontinence can be contributed to weakness of the pelvic floor muscles and lack of coordination/control of the muscles.
Your physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation to assess your symptoms. Being the evaluation may be internal and external, you and your therapist will work together to ensure your comfort throughout the entire process. If your therapist feels you may need further examination or testing, she will refer you to an MD.
Stress incontinence can be treated with first focus on relieving any adhesions or shortened musculature followed by strengthening of the pelvic floor to avoid leakage of urine.With urge incontinence, treatment will focus on retraining and controlling your pelvic floor muscles to fight the urge to urinate.