Do you pee your pants sometimes? Is leaking urine getting you down?  Are you limiting social activities or exercise for fear of embarrassment? Not wanting to be too far from a bathroom at any given moment because “when you gotta go, you gotta go!”? Or is it causing anxiety or family stress related to dependent care?

 

Although it can be an embarrassing subject, you are not alone! Studies show 25% of young women under the age of 40, 50% of middle aged women, and 75% of older women in nursing homes suffer from urinary incontinence.  Evidence shows urinary and/or fecal incontinence is one of the major factors that drives decisions regarding long-term care needs as individuals age.  Alternatively, in the younger population studies show a high incidence of urinary incontinence among female athletes, especially involved in higher impact sports.

Many people accept leaking urine when you laugh, cough, strain, or when you “really have to go” as just a typical consequence of aging, being post-menopausal, or having experienced pregnancy and childbirth.  While these symptoms may not be uncommon in these populations, they should NOT be passed off as “normal”. In fact, urine leakage after childbirth should resolve by 6 weeks postpartum. 6 weeks!

 

Did you know physical therapy can treat urinary incontinence?

 

Research has shown that exercise and physical therapy for incontinence can be as effective as surgery in a lot of cases. Just like other muscles in the body, there are muscles and nerves in the bladder and the pelvic floor that work together to hold urine or to let urine pass.  Problems can arise when these muscles are weak, tight, or uncoordinated and/or the nerves are over or under sensitive.  A physical therapy evaluation of strength, muscle tone, coordination and urinary patterns can determine what may be causing your incontinence issues.  A good treatment plan to work on strengthening, stretching/relaxation, and re-education of the involved muscles and structures can be an effective way of resolving and managing your symptoms. A relatively simple approach to such a disruptive problem!

If you are suffering from urinary incontinence, looking to improve your quality of life, or have any questions about how physical therapy could help you, our team at DeePT can assist you! 

 

Written by: Stephanie Douglas, PT