When we talk about continence, we are referring to being able to maintain control over our bladders and bowels. Incontinence, which involves the involuntary release of urine, wind, or faeces, is more common than you may think. In fact, millions of Australians live with it. And sadly, most do not seek treatment.
There are different ways to find relief from and improve incontinence. One such way is with physiotherapy. This may surprise you as physiotherapists are often associated with sporting injuries or the general wear and tear most of us deal with one time or another throughout our lives. However, physio can be a beneficial, non-invasive option for treatment of incontinence.
Whether the degree to which incontinence affects you results in a small leak or complete lack of control, our physiotherapists can work with you to assess, treat, and improve your situation.
Types Of Incontinence
There are several types of incontinence. The most common are:
This type of incontinence involves the loss of urine from the bladder in an uncontrolled or accidental manner, often stemming from weak pelvic floor muscles. This issue is often seen in the elderly population. However, it can affect younger people.
There are several underlying or contributing aspects that can lead to urinary incontinence. These can include factors such as the following:
- Chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and asthma.
- Prostate conditions and surgery.
- Pelvic girdle pain.
- Pregnancy and childbirth.
Symptoms of urinary incontinence can include:
- Occasional or frequent unexpected leakage or complete emptying of the bladder.
- Increased pressure in the abdominal region.
- Increased frequency when it comes to needing to go to the bathroom.
These issues are often, but not always, linked to activities such as sneezing, jumping, walking, lifting, or laughing. This can also be referred to as stress incontinence as certain movements increase abdominal pressure, push down on the bladder, and cause urine leakage.
This form of incontinence involves an overwhelming need to urinate. The muscle surrounding the bladder can be overactive, which can contract the bladder, and this can result in urinary incontinence before reaching the toilet.
Sometimes, a trigger can influence this response, such as the sight of a toilet or the sound of running water. This type of incontinence is often linked to other health conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. It affects men and women and can occur when you are awake or asleep (nocturia).
There are a range of factors that may lead to urge incontinence. These can include:
- Alcohol or caffeine consumption.
- Chronic coughing.
- Hormone changes and imbalance.
- Enlarged prostate gland.
- A background of poor bladder habits, such as resisting the need to go to the toilet.
Physiotherapy Options For Incontinence
There are two main ways that physiotherapists can provide assistance. Our physios tailor these to meet your needs and requirements.
It is easy to assume that going to the toilet is an innate process that we can undertake error-free without guidance. However, like many factors of the human body, there is a lot involved and something you may think is alright to do might be causing you harm.
Our physiotherapists can discuss with you aspects such as:
- Bad habits like going to the toilet ‘just in case’ or straining.
- Techniques to reduce this pre-emptive urination or increased pressure on the abdominal region.
- Lifestyle modifications, such as adequate hydration, reducing fluid intake before bedtime, caffeine and alcohol intake reduction, stopping smoking, and weight loss.
Our physiotherapists can provide a range of exercises that can improve and prevent incontinence. These may target areas such as:
Pelvic Floor Muscles
These muscles line the lower opening of the pelvic cavity and play a crucial part in maintaining control over the bladder and bowel. We can help you learn pelvic floor and Kegel exercises and methods of activating these muscles effectively and improving their endurance. If these are not done in the right way, accessory muscles can be overworked, which can cause other issues.
Deep Core Muscles
These muscles are crucial to a stable abdominal cavity and work in conjunction with the pelvic floor muscles. Subsequently, it is important to strengthen these appropriately.
Having sufficiently strong glutes help the function of the pelvic floor muscles and support the sacrum and pelvis, assisting in maintaining continence.
Improve Incontinence With Physiotherapy
The number of people who deal with incontinence on a daily basis is high, and the numbers are expected to rise significantly. This issue can impact physical and mental health, can have long term financial implications, and can affect lifestyle factors such as socialising and work.
The physiotherapists at Whole Body Clinic are experienced and skilled in assessing incontinence and developing a personalised treatment plan. We welcome you to visit us to discuss your situation in a friendly and understanding environment.