Photo: woods wheatcroft photography

Leaking Down Below can be CURED

Urinary incontinence is a topic that many people, women and men alike try to avoid, yet we hear references in the movies and even greeting cards:  “Don’t make me laugh, I’ll pee my pants”.  Most of my patients tell me that they would never discuss their treatment with their closest friends while others say they are going to tell all their girlfriends.  Let me start by dispelling some of the most common myths: No, it is not a NORMAL part of aging. NO, it is not only in “old” women.  NO, it is not only in women who have had 6 babies.  Men have urinary and FECAL incontinence, as do young women who have never been pregnant.  There are also lots of 80 or 90 year old women who have no incontinence.

Risk factors for urinary and fecal incontinence include heavy lifting, chronic coughing (asthma, COPD), obesity, multiple births with babies > 8 pounds, multiple epsiotomies and sexual abuse/trauma.  68% of people with low back pain have urinary incontinence as the nerve center for bowel and bladder function lies in the lower thoracic and upper lumbar spine.

There are two types of urinary incontinence: stress or urge.  Stress urinary incontinence is the type we see depicted in the movies and occurs when there is increased pressure to the pelvic floor during laughing, sneezing, running or jumping.  Urge urinary incontinence is defined as a strong urge that cannot be suppressed and is usually triggered by certain events like pulling into your driveway at home or opening the front door when you need to go and realize you are just moments away.  This urge may also come on when you hear running water or wash your hands.

Treatment is easy but takes time and commitment.  Like going to the health club and starting a new work out routine it takes 8-12 weeks of Physical Therapy with home program to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.  Biofeedback is used to give patients a visual and objective readout on their pelvic floor muscle strength and endurance.  Patients are progressed from a laying down gravity eliminated position to sitting then standing.  Once they are able to independently perform a strong contraction in standing they are discharged from treatment.  Electric stimulation is also used to stimulate and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles as well as inhibit the contraction responsible for the urge symptoms.

For questions regarding urinary or fecal incontinence and treatment you can call Mary Boyd, MS, PT at 290-5575.

Photo by JPC24M

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