Sunday, May 12, 2024

Physical Therapy For Urinary Stress Incontinence

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How Can A Physical Therapist Help

Mayo Clinic Minute: Treatment options for stress urinary incontinence

Based on the evaluation results, your physical therapist will create an individualized treatment program to improve your pelvic-floor muscle function. Your physical therapist can help you:

  • Gain control over your symptoms.
  • Reduce the need for pads and special undergarments, incontinence medications, and possibly surgery.

Treatments to Improve Pelvic-Floor Muscle Function

Your physical therapist will teach you how to “find” your pelvic-floor muscles by tensing and releasing them. The physical therapist will design an exercise program based on your condition to help you improve your pelvic-floor muscle function so you can better control your bladder.

Your treatments may include:

  • Kegel exercises. The Kegel exercise is performed by squeezing the sphincter muscles or imagining that you are trying to stop the flow of urine.
  • Biofeedback. Depending on your symptoms and level of comfort, your physical therapist may gently employ electrodes to measure your pelvic-floor muscle activity. The biofeedback obtained can help make you more aware of the correct way to use your pelvic-floor muscles.
  • Muscle strengthening exercises. Your physical therapist will teach you specific exercises to stretch and strengthen other important muscles that help support proper bladder function.
  • Electrical stimulation. Your physical therapist may apply gentle electrical stimulation to help improve your awareness of your muscle function.

How Can Physical Therapy Help With Urinary Incontinence

Its a common misconception that urinary incontinence is a condition you just have to deal with. In fact, physical therapy can help you regain the strength necessary to control your symptoms. Just make sure you choose a physical therapist who has experience in treating pelvic floor dysfunctions.

There are several types of urinary incontinence:

  • When dealing with stress incontinence, a person may experience urine leakage upon sneezing, lifting heavy items, or laughing. This is commonly due to injury, childbirth, lack of exercise, or other trauma. Any activity that places stress on the bladder can cause pressure, leading to urine leaksnormally only in small amounts.
  • Urge incontinence is caused by muscle spasms. It can happen at any time, and medium to large amounts of urine may leak. Urge incontinence may only occur once in a while or as often as every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Mixed incontinence is a mix of both urge and stress incontinence.
  • Functional incontinence occurs when a person is unable to make it to the restroom in time to prevent a urine leak.

A PT can guide you through exercises tailored to your specific type of incontinence thatll enable you to control leakage. For example, short contraction exercises involve quickly tightening, lifting up, then releasing the fast-twitch muscles that actively shut off urine flow. The PT will help you identify and use the correct muscles for this exercise by applying gentle electrical stimulation.

When Stress Incontinence Hits Physical Therapy Could Be Your Answer

Taking time to work out the muscles that control your urinary tract is often a first step in treating stress incontinence. McLeod Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist Taylor Holmes specializes in helping women taking control of their lives. This is what she told a gathering of more than 100 women during McLeod Womens Health Straight Talk:

Here are key points from Taylors response:

Physical therapy can be a great treatment for urinary incontinence. The pelvic muscles support the pelvic floor. If theyre not working properly, it can trigger incontinence.


If you came to me for a physical therapy evaluation, I would test the pelvic muscles the same way that I would test your arms muscles or your thigh muscles or any other muscle that you want to strengthen.

I would see how well you can lift with that muscle and how much you can give support to your pelvic floor. Then, I would work to strengthen your muscles.

Ive been specializing in Pelvic Health for about one-and-a-half years. While it doesnt help some people, Ive seen a good bit of success with women, even one who had been leaking for 20 years. At the end of 12 weeks, they were not leaking any more. Now, you have to keep up the exercises. Like any muscle, if you dont use it, the muscle will get weak.


I think a lot of people have heard of Kegel exercises, where you squeeze your pelvic floor muscle like you are trying to hold in your urine or stop a stream of urine.

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Physical Therapy Treatment For Urinary Incontinence Consists Of:

  • Increasing strength, stability and endurance of the pelvic core neuromuscular system
  • Increasing synergy and pattern of muscle firing between the pelvic floor and core
  • Use of either external or internal biofeedback for pelvic floor training and re-education
  • Performing strengthening exercises in functional and dynamic movement patterns
  • Improving posture/positions

Athletico Physical Therapy complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, religion, sex, national origin, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, veteran status, or source of payment. You will be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect as an individual.

Athletico Physical Therapy cumple con las leyes federales de derechos civiles aplicables y no discrimina por motivos de raza, edad, religión, sexo, origen nacional, condición socioeconómica, orientación sexual, identidad o expresión de género, discapacidad, condición de veterano o fuente de pago. Serás tratado con dignidad, compasión y respeto como individuo.

What To Expect At Your Pelvic Floor Initial Evaluation:

Stress Urinary Incontinence and Diastasis Recti

Many patients understandably feel nervous and intimated by the thought of someone evaluating their pelvic floor, but rest assured that it is your physical therapists number one priority to make sure that you feel safe, comfortable, and cared for. Here are some things to be prepared for prior to your pelvic floor initial evaluation:

  • Be ready to have a conversation about your health history and current symptoms. Answering questions such as:
  • How many pregnancy/births have you had?
  • How many bathroom breaks do you take in a day?
  • How much leakage are you experiencing?
  • What triggers your symptoms?
  • How much water do you drink in a day?
  • What types of beverages do you consume?
  • Undergo a fully clothed physical assessment of your strength, range of motion, pelvic alignment, posture, and movement mechanics.
  • An assessment of your abdomen including things such as C-section scar mobility, transverse abdominal contraction, and diastasis recti.
  • Education about the pelvic floor anatomy and why you may be experiencing incontinence. Warning you may feel like a student again!
  • If, and only if it is deemed necessary and the patient feels comfortable and gives informed consent, an external and internal examination of your pelvic floor will take place. During this portion of the exam expect the physical therapist to palpate structures both internally and externally and for you to perform kegel contractions, bear down, and cough when asked.
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    What Kind Of Physical Therapist Do I Need

    Womenâs health or pelvic-floor therapy is a specialty area women or men with urinary incontinence may want to consider seeing:

    • A physical therapist who is experienced in treating women’s health problems, pelvic-floor dysfunction, and urinary incontinence.
    • A physical therapist who completed a residency or fellowship in women’s health physical therapy or who has obtained the womenâs health clinical specialization. This physical therapist has advanced knowledge, experience, and skills that may apply to your condition.

    You can find physical therapists who have these and other credentials by using Find a PT, the online tool built by the American Physical Therapy Association to help you search for physical therapists with specific clinical expertise in your geographic area.

    General tips when you’re looking for a physical therapist :

    • Get recommendations from family and friends or from other health care providers.
    • When you contact a physical therapy clinic for an appointment, ask about the physical therapists’ experience in helping people with urinary incontinence.
    • Be prepared to describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible, and say what makes your symptoms worse.

    A Common Condition A Taboo Topic

    At any given time, approximately 1 in 25 people in the world are suffering from urinary incontinence. Thats around 300 million people who have to deal with the stress, inconvenience, and embarrassment this issue can cause. Despite how common it is, UI carries a stigma that can prevent them from seeking treatment based on the assumption that it is a relatively rare condition. Luckily, there are smart solutions like TESLAChair Functional Magnetic Stimulation and similar treatments available to help strengthen weakened pelvic floor muscles and alleviate urinary incontinence.

    Read Also: How Can You Get A Urinary Tract Infection

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    Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy For Overactive Bladder

    People with overactive bladder experience a strong and sudden urge to urinate. They may find themselves waking up two or more times each night to use the bathroom. OAB may also cause involuntary loss of urine, known as urge incontinence.

    The symptoms of OAB are thought to be caused by miscommunication between the brain and the bladder.

    OAB can be uncomfortable and even painful at times. The condition can greatly affect your quality of life and can lead to emotional distress. Fortunately, treatment can help you manage symptoms.

    One treatment option for urge incontinence due to OAB is a specialized form of physical therapy known as pelvic floor physical therapy. A trained physical therapist will work with you to help you coordinate the muscles of the pelvic floor and bladder through muscle-training exercises such as Kegels.

    How Can Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Help

    Stop Stress Urinary Incontinence With 5 Easy Exercises

    Your pelvic health physical therapist can help you to determine which type of urinary incontinence you have, as well as the specific cause . If your pelvic health physical therapist finds that your pelvic floor muscles are weak, they will teach you how to strengthen them. If your pelvic floor muscles are tight, they will work with you to learn to relax them. Additionally, your pelvic health physical therapist will help you figure out whether you are drinking too much, or not enough, fluid. They will guide you in properly hydrating throughout the day. They will also discuss techniques for overcoming strong bladder urges and performing activities that stress the bladder/pelvic floor muscles without becoming incontinent.

    If you have leakage, urgency, or frequency, and would like to schedule a physical therapy evaluation, contact us at or 617-618-9290. We would love to help you get back on track!

    Jess Danahy, PT, DPT

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    What Causes Urinary Incontinence

    Urinary incontinence occurs when you accidentally lose control of your bladder and leak urine. You can temporarily develop urinary incontinence when you have a urinary tract infection or from some foods, beverages, and medications.

    However, when urinary incontinence is persistent, there may be a problem in the nerves that control your bladder or your pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder and control the flow of urine.

    Please contact office for appointment.

    Pelvic Floor Muscles Exercise In Frail Or Cognitive Impairment Old People

    Older people may be considered wealthy or frail. In contrast to wealthy, the term frail older persons define the people over the age of 65 years with a clinical presentation of impaired physical activity, mobility, balance, muscle strength, motor processing, cognition, and feelings of fatigue. However, frailty is not synonymous with disability and comorbidity, even if frail people usually have multiple chronic medical conditions, take multiple drugs, and have difficulties in the personal activities of daily life and a high risk of intercurrent diseases, hospitalization, and death. This is very important to make therapeutic plans for older people. No differences exist among the PFME for adult and wealthy older people. However, initial management should be individualized and influenced by treatment goals, preferences, and estimated remaining life expectancy, as the most likely clinical diagnosis. In treating urinary incontinence of the frail elderly, PFME is considered as fist-line therapy . In association with other conservative measures, it has a relevant role in the improvement of quality of life. Age is no barrier to the benefits of PFME .

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    What Really Causes Urinary Incontinence

    Your pelvic floor serves several functions, including control of your bladder. When the collagen in your pelvic walls break down after aging or giving birth, theyre unable to control your bladder like before. Restoring that collagen is key to repairing your pelvic floor.

    But restoring your pelvic floor means so much more than reducing the symptoms of urinary incontinence. A weak pelvic floor can cause vaginal dryness, loss of responsiveness, inability of climax and decreased vaginal tone. This may lead to a decline or even an absence of sexual desire, where women lose the ability climax.

    Simply put: Restoring your pelvic floor means leaking less and peaking more.

    How Can Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Help With Oab

    Urinary Incontinence

    The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and ligaments that support your bladder, rectum, uterus, and prostate. The muscles attach to your pelvic bone and go around the rectum. They help you to control bladder and bowel function and allow you to hold on until you are ready to relieve urine or feces.

    Muscles around the bladder can become weak due to a number of factors, such as:

    • childbirth
    • constipation
    • prostate cancer treatments

    If the pelvic floor muscles weaken, you may have problems with urine leakage, urgency, and frequency.

    To help with these OAB symptoms, its important to keep the pelvic floor muscles strong so they can properly support the bladder and other organs. Pelvic floor physical therapy helps you to identify and strengthen these muscles.

    Another theory suggests that contracting the pelvic floor muscles can improve conscious control of the bladder by activating the part of the brain responsible for the voluntary urinary inhibition reflex.

    Read Also: How Do I Know If I Have Urinary Tract Infection

    Womens Physical Therapy At Rpt

    Physical therapy could be the answer you need to treat your incontinence and pelvic floor pain. RPT is a physical therapy clinic in Utah that has therapists who specialize in womenâs health.

    Our skilled therapists can teach you exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, allowing you to manage your bladder better and control your pain. You will be able to control your bladder and reduce the frequency and urge by working with one of our fully qualified physical therapists.

    We provide individualized treatment strategies to alleviate symptoms and help you feel better. Along with developing a detailed treatment plan, we will teach you pelvic floor exercises to perform long-term.

    These detailed solutions will do wonders in treating persistent pelvic pain problems, stress and urge incontinence, pregnancy body, irritable bowel syndrome, and other dysfunctions in the pelvic region.

    You can rely on RPT to provide you with the best physical therapy to manage your pain and help you perform at your best.

    Whatever symptom you need treatment for, our team will treat you as if you are our first priority because you are.

    Pelvic Floor Pain In Men And Women

    While pelvic floor dysfunction affects every gender, it is more common in women. One reason is the stress placed on the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.

    After giving birth, many women develop pelvic floor problems. During childbirth, the pelvic floor muscles and tissues stretch, especially if the woman experienced a long, protracted, or difficult labor.

    Those suffering from pelvic floor pain from pregnancy often rely on pelvic floor physical therapy to gain control of these muscles and learn how to contract and relax them properly.

    Although pregnancy is a huge factor in developing pelvic floor pain dysfunction, the exact cause is still uncertain. However, there are a few other well-known factors that can increase your chance of developing pelvic floor dysfunction, including:

    • Injury to the pelvic region because of a traumatic event
    • Pregnancy
    • Overuse of the pelvic muscles, such as going to the bathroom too frequently or pushing too hard
    • Surgery to the pelvic region
    • Being overweight
    • Familial genes

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    Physical Therapy Treatments For Incontinence Prolapse And The Pelvic Floor

    We offer multiple types of treatment options for someone who is suffering from a pelvic floor disorder. When the physicians at CU Urogynecology feel that physical therapy would be the ideal treatment option, they will refer the patient to the physical therapy department. The physical therapists will find the best type of therapy for each patient depending on the condition, her medical history and the desired outcome.

    Learn about the primary treatment options offered at the UCHealth physical therapy offices below.

    Types Of Urinary Incontinence

    How Can Physical Therapy Treat Incontinence?

    Urge Incontinence

    Urge incontinence is caused by a muscle spasm or some other dysfunction in your bladder. That spasm causes a strong urge to urinate right now. Before youre able to reach the toilet, you may leak some urine.

    If you have urge incontinence, physical therapy can help control the muscle spasms or other dysfunctions that cause the strong urge to urinate.

    Stress Incontinence

    Stress incontinence is any leakage of urine that begins with increased pressure on your abdomen. This pressure could be a cough or sneeze. You may leak when you laugh or jump, or from any physical activity.

    Physical therapy for stress incontinence will help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles to prevent leakage during physical activity.

    Mixed Incontinence

    Mixed incontinence is when you leak from both stressors and urges.

    This could mean you have an involuntary loss of urine thats associated with the urgency to urinate, or due to physical activities, or from coughing or sneezing.

    Recommended Reading: How To Cure Urinary Retention

    How Is It Diagnosed

    Your physical therapist will perform a thorough examination to identify the causes of your urinary incontinence, and will ask you to describe your symptoms and your daily experiences. They may assess the muscles of your pelvis, hip, and low back, as well as the coordination, strength, and flexibility of the muscles of your pelvic floor.

    Your physical therapist also may refer you to a physician for additional tests, such as urodynamic testing, diagnostic ultrasound, or MRI to show any pelvic-floor muscle problems, to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

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