Urinary incontinence affects millions of people and can be a socially embarrassing and emotionally disruptive condition. In many cases, physical therapy can help manage and even completely alleviate the problem.
Urinary incontinence, the loss of bladder control, is a common problem. It affects people of all ages and is more common in women than men. Experts estimate 25 million adult Americans suffer from some form of urinary incontinence, and 75 to 80% of those are women. Researchers estimate one in four women over the age of 18 experience some form of urinary incontinence. In most cases urinary incontinence is treatable, and physical therapy can often help a patient regain bladder control.
The goal of physical therapy is to help the patient retrain the body and regain control of the bladder. Physical therapy offers a non-surgical alternative for the management of urinary incontinence, and may also be used as a complement to surgical intervention and pharmacological management.
Treatment options available through physical therapy include:
Many patients find therapeutic exercises and bladder training are very successful in treating stress and urge incontinence. For those who have trouble with the exercises, biofeedback can help visualize and correctly recruit your muscles. If your muscles are too weak to perform the exercises correctly, electrical stimulation can help the pelvic muscles contract, strengthening the muscles so the patient can correctly perform the exercises.
In order to participate in physical therapy, a patient must be screened and referred by their physician (OB/Gyn, family practice, urologist), nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. Ask your doctor if physical therapy is a possible treatment for your urinary incontinence.