Urinary incontinence is the loss of urine control. Often times, you may not be able to hold your urine until you reach the restroom. It can range from a slight loss of urine to severe and frequent wetting. Incontinence can be long-term, or it can be a short-term problem caused by another health issue. There are two types of urinary incontinence – urge and stress.
What is the difference between urge and stress incontinence?
Urge incontinence is involuntary leakage caused by, or immediately preceded by, urgency, which is the sudden compelling desire to pass urine. Stress incontinence is the most common type of incontinence. It is most common in women. With stress incontinence, you may leak urine when there is pressure on the bladder. This can be caused by coughing, exercising or lifting heavy objects, laughing, and sneezing.
What are the common causes of incontinence?
Common causes of incontinence include:
- Obesity/chronic coughing/straining
- Excessive lifting
- Pelvic or abdominal surgery
- Neurological conditions
What are the treatment options?
There are a number of treatment options for incontinence. The type of treatment you receive depends on the type of incontinence you have and what is causing it. It can include:
- Behavioral modifications (fluid restrictions, dietary changes, weight loss, etc.)
- Devices/surgical options
- Physical therapy
How will physical therapy help me?
Physical therapy can help you regain bladder control with a number of options that include:
Muscle strengthening. During this treatment, the muscles (pelvic floor, core, hips, back) which are identified as weak, are strengthened through various different exercises.
Relaxation. Opposite of muscle strengthening, during this treatment, the muscles that are tight or guarded are relaxed.
Diaphragmatic breathing. A type of breathing exercises that focus on the movement of the abdomen while breathing. It’s important to work on core contraction and relaxation when treating urinary incontinence.
Urge suppression and knack techniques. During this exercise, patients practice squeezing the pelvic floor before various activities such as coughing, sneezing, lifting, etc.
EMG (electromyography) Biofeedback. This treatment helps coordinate the brain, bladder, and pelvic floor and retrain the muscles from the brain to the bladder and from the brain to the pelvis floor.
“Physical therapy is a great tool for treating incontinence,” said Lyndsey Brown, PA, “A lot of patients come back to me and share what a difference it has made and that they no longer have to take medication as a result.”
Hear more from providers Lyndsey Brown, PA, Cayla Dungey, NP and physical therapist Vanessa Cool, PT about the causes and symptoms of incontinence and how you can overcome it in the video below: