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Physical therapy for urinary incontinence

What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence, a condition that commonly affects older individuals, is defined by a loss of bladder control. Urinary incontinence occurs when the bladder muscles are overactive and the sphincter muscles, which usually pinch the urinary tract shut, are too weak to prevent urine from leaking out.

Pressure caused by sneezing, laughing, or exercising can cause the bladder muscles to seize and result in leakage. A nerve control problem can also be to blame for urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence affects twice as many women as men, largely because it’s frequently associated with reproductive health events such as pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. It’s also more common in older women, with more than 40% of women aged 65 and older affected.

Source: Women’shealth.gov

Urinary incontinence symptoms

Symptoms of urinary incontinence can range from occasional, minor leakages of urine to more frequent and severe leakages. The severity and frequency of the leakage will depend on the underlying cause.

Stress incontinence, for example, occurs when pressure is exerted on the bladder, such as by laughing, coughing, sneezing, or exercising. Urge incontinence, on the other hand, is characterized by an intense and sudden urge to urinate followed by a loss of urine; urge incontinence is often caused by an underlying condition like an infection, a neurological disorder, or diabetes. Finally, overflow incontinence is characterized by frequent or even constant loss of small amounts of urine due to a bladder that never empties completely.

The most common symptoms of urinary incontinence include:

  • Urine leakage
  • Inability to empty the bladder
  • A feeling of pressure on the bladder
  • Weakness in the muscles surrounding the bladder

Source: MayoClinic

What causes urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence isn’t a condition in and of itself; rather, it’s a symptom. It can be caused by a number of underlying medical conditions, lifestyle, or physical problems. Some of the underlying causes of urinary incontinence are easily fixable; for example, certain drinks and foods, including alcohol, caffeine, and acidic or spicy foods, can act as diuretics and increase urine volume. In addition, conditions like a urinary tract infection or constipation can cause urinary incontinence.

However, when patients have frequent and persistent urinary incontinence, it’s usually caused by a more serious condition or physical change. Neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, for example, can cause urinary incontinence, as can prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate.

Pregnancy, menopause, a hysterectomy, and childbirth are among the most common causes of urinary incontinence, contributing to its high occurrence among older women. Any changes or extra stress to the female reproductive system can also increase stress on the bladder, as the two are located close together.

The most common causes of urinary incontinence include:

  • Gender
  • Obesity
  • Lifestyle
  • Neurological disorders
  • Pregnancy and childbirth

Source: Mayo Clinic

Physical therapy for urinary incontinence

With the help of a physical therapist, patients with urinary incontinence can identify the cause of their urinary incontinence and develop an effective treatment plan accordingly. Because urinary incontinence can be caused by a number of different factors, a physical therapist will begin by performing a thorough examination to determine the problem’s root cause. This evaluation can involve urodynamic testing, diagnostic ultrasound, or MRI.

Once a root cause has been determined, a physical therapist can create an individualized treatment plan to improve pelvic-floor muscle function, helping the patient to gain control of their symptoms and reduce their need for specialized undergarments or medication. Treatments may include Kegel exercises, biofeedback, muscle strengthening exercises, and electrical stimulation.

Source: Move Forward PT

Luna’s physical therapists treat urinary incontinence

Luna has physical therapists across the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Orange County who specialize in treating patients suffering from urinary incontinence. Our PTs will work with you to identify the cause of your urinary incontinence and create a physical therapy program designed to improve pelvic floor strength and reduce the volume and frequency of the incontinence.

Luna provides first-class physical therapy to patients with urinary incontinence — all without the hassle of trekking to and from the clinic. Our PTs treat patients in the comfort of their own homes.

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