Most of us are familiar with common conditions that are treated in most physical therapy clinics: ankle sprains, neck spasms, back pain,…the list goes on. However, there is another extremely common condition that can be treated by physical therapists that many of us may have never even considered—urinary incontinence. The topic may be bit of a taboo in today’s culture; it’s not exactly a something you like to discuss while meeting up with friends, or over dinner with your loved ones. It may not even be something you have discussed with your doctor. However, it’s common. VERY common. We’re talking as many as 25 million Americans. And just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s normal. Did you know there are conservative treatments you can try to address incontinence symptoms, and a physical therapist can help? Read on!
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a sub-specialty within the profession. Pelvic floor therapists have advanced training to help address issues of the pelvic floor, the muscles that lie in the bowl of our pelvis. These muscles have 3 functions: supportive (they help to hold all our organs “up”), sphinteric (they aid in closing the pelvic openings), and sexual function. And just like any other skeletal muscle in the body, they can go into spasm, be tight, or weak. If any of those issues are present in the muscle, it may result in break down of the muscle’s function. The result can be incontinence, urgency, and/or pain. This is where your pelvic floor physical therapist can help. A pelvic floor exam involves both an internal and external exam of the muscles to identify any dysfunction, and then set up a treatment plan specific to your given impairments. Most women have been told by someone in their life to “do Kegels”… but not everyone should be doing Kegels. Sometimes it may be necessary to teach those muscles how to “relax” vs “contract”. For those that could benefit from doing Kegels, studies have shown up to 40% of women who are performing them may be doing them ineffectively. The most effective way to determine if and how you should be doing pelvic floor exercises, is through and evaluation with a pelvic floor PT.
So whether you are a new mom and are experiencing significant leakage with almost every move you make, or you only leak when you sneeze, or you find yourself needing to jet to the restroom before you can finish reading this article; pelvic floor therapy may be a good option for you and I can help. If you have additional questions about pelvic floor PT, and the other conditions we can help with, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to answer your questions.