“I just pee a little every time I sneeze, but that’s what happens when we get older!”
I’ve heard this phrase more times than I can count, and unfortunately, many men and women believe this to be true. Let me be the first one to tell you- incontinence of any kind is NEVER normal.
It’s not normal to wear incontinence pads everyday, or to not always make it to the bathroom, or to leak every time we pick up our grandkids.
This article contains everything you need to know about urinary incontinence, and how you can help it- no matter how long you have been leaking urine and no matter what treatments you have already had.
There are multiple types of urinary incontinence:
- Stress Incontinence: This is what happens when we leak when we sneeze, cough, or lift.
- Urge Incontinence: This is what happens when we have the urge to pee, but then begin peeing before we have a chance to do anything about it.
- Functional Incontinence: This is when something else (a bad back, a bad hip, etc) makes it so it takes us a long time to get to the bathroom, and we can’t hold it that long.
Typically patients have a combination of these, but the treatments are similar.
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Urinary incontinence can happen for a variety of reasons, but first, let’s talk a little bit about how our body works for us to go to the bathroom. There is a set of muscles that sit at the bottom of our pelvic bones, called the “pelvic floor” or the “pelvic diaphragm”.
These muscles either relax to allow urine to empty from our bladder, or they tighten to tell our bladder “wait! I’m not ready to pee yet!”
If our pelvic floor is weak, our bladder will start to empty because it’s not being told not to, and this is commonly where leakage occurs!
Urinary incontinence can come from lack of endurance of our pelvic floor, lack of strength of our pelvic floor, neurological deficits, or a long history of improper bathroom techniques.
Treatments for urinary incontinence can include medications that calm down the bladder function. These medications work to inhibit the muscles around the bladder to stop it from emptying frequently.
Unfortunately, these medications aren’t specific to just the bladder muscles, and can slow down other muscles in our body like our eyes or heart.
Surgeries, such as a bladder sling, may have a positive effect on urinary incontinence. The effects from these surgeries typically are not permanent as incontinence may return in as little as five years.
These also pose the risk of infection or complications from the surgery itself.
One way to ensure we are keeping dry is to make sure our pelvic floor is functioning well, and this is where physical therapy comes in.
A trained physical therapist can assess the muscles in the pelvic floor and provide a tailored exercise program to make them strong and healthy.
It’s just like hitting the gym to strengthen any other muscle in our body, this one just happens to be in our pants. Physical therapy is not invasive, poses minimal risks, and the results and habits built from physical therapy can be permanent!
Usually my patients have been to their physician and talked to them about their urinary incontinence before seeing me. They go through a series of medications or even surgeries and find that it doesn’t help much.
This is because these treatments don’t fix the root cause of their incontinence- which is usually a weak pelvic floor! Medications can’t replace strength training.
If you think you would benefit from a FREE discovery session with one of our pelvic floor physical therapists, click the link below to schedule your session today!
About Author: Dr. Jenna Stasi
Dr. Jenna Stasi is currently pursuing her Women’s Health Clinical Specialist Certification, to better treat women and men suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction. In her time away from the clinic, she enjoys running, backpacking, and baking. For more information on how to ease or overcome your injury, go to www.backinmotionsspt.com.