Photo: woods wheatcroft photography

Don’t put the cart before the horse when it comes to surgery

Glass of WaterMany patients and physicians alike are unaware of the various specialty areas available to physical therapists. Just this past month I evaluated 2 women with failed bladder sling surgery. Both women were unaware that physical therapists may seek special training to help women (and men) who suffer from urinary (and fecal) incontinence. Neither of these women were offered physical therapy prior to surgery or were even aware that they might be helped by some non-surgical treatment. Physical therapists who have specialized training in women’s health spend quite a bit of time educating patients on bowel and bladder mechanics such as diet when to go vs. when to wait and positions that may aide elimination. One woman has suffered with constipation since the birth of her now adult son. Despite talking to all of her physicians about this often disabling issue that can cause severe back pain, she had no relief. After our first session with a few recommendations, her constipation has resolved.

Studies show that there continues to be a huge stigma about discussion of bowel and bladder problems and treatment even in young women. Urinary and fecal incontinence is not normal. It is not related to age. It is not normal to leak even 1 drop of urine with coughing or sneezing. Even if you are 80, it is not normal. Its occurrence is usually an indication of weak pelvic floor muscles.   Muscles often become weak for a variety of reasons such as chronic coughing or sneezing with asthma or allergies, carrying large babies over 8 pounds, obesity, or repetitious lifting.

The treatment, as with any weak muscle, involves strengthening not only in the clinic but at home and takes a 12 week commitment. Success rates are 99%.   The treatment involves strengthening hip internal and external rotators along with the muscles of the pelvic floor. Women have great success with my Biofeedback unit which gives them a bar graph readout in relationship to the strength and endurance of their muscle contraction. Electric stimulation increases the strength of the muscle and inhibits wrong contractions.

Sadly there are lots of women hiding out at home due to urinary incontinence. They are afraid to do anything active due to leakage. There is help available for them!! Treatment is easy and successful.

Mary Boyd MS, PT is available to answer your questions, She can be reached at 290-5575.

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