Incontinence is Not a Normal Part of Aging
The popular consensus regarding incontinence may be that it is just something that happens as we get older, but it is not a normal part of aging. There are two types of urinary incontinence that many people experience. Urinary leakage can occur when coughing, sneezing, laughing, changing positions, bending, lifting, walking or exercising. This is referred to as stress urinary incontinence. Leaking can also occur after a strong urge to urinate is perceived and we are unable to get to the bathroom in time. This is referred to as urge incontinence. Symptoms of both types happening together is called mixed urinary incontinence.
Incontinence can occur for many reasons, including constipation, post-menopausal hormonal changes, enlargement of the prostate—benign prostate hyperplasia/BPH, post-prostatectomy issues, impaired posture, organ prolapse, impaired mobility, impaired core strength and pelvic floor dysfunctions, including either tight or weak muscles. The condition may be embarrassing and uncomfortable, but it can be treated and corrected.
Physical therapy with a trained pelvic floor therapist can help reduce or eliminate symptoms completely. A therapist will assess dysfunctions by obtaining a thorough medical history, looking at posture and movement patterns/mobility and examining pelvic floor muscles directly. Depending on the findings, therapy may include manual techniques to release tight muscles and correct alignment, biofeedback to help strengthen weak muscles or relax tight muscles, instruction in proper body mechanics, exercise and activity to reduce leaking, instruction in lifestyle changes to promote good bowel and bladder health, and bladder retraining strategies. A therapist may also use abdominal fascial manipulation to optimize pelvic floor and bladder function.
Anyone experiencing urinary incontinence or other associated symptoms should see a doctor to be assessed and obtain a referral for physical therapy. Physical therapy treatment can allow us the freedom to perform activities of daily living, travel and participate in recreational and social activities without the embarrassment and inconvenience of leaking.
Linda Finn, PT, WCS, practices at the Westmont office of ARC Physical Therapy, at 337 Ogden Ave. For more information and a list of all ARC locations, call 630-323-8646 or visit ARCPhysicalTherapy.com.