Physical Therapy Can Help Urinary Incontinence by Susan Natoli

     Did you know there are between 13 and 33 million Americans who suffer from incontinence? 30-40% of people over 60 years old have urinary incontinence. Actually, 1 out of every 6 women over 45 have urinary incontinence. So, it's a common condition that you don't need to be embarrassed about.

     Exactly what is urinary incontinence? Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine that can occur when exercising, coughing, sneezing or just laughing. People lose urine when coughing, sneezing and laughing because the muscle tone in the abdominal muscles is greater that the muscle tone in the muscles that control the urine. Urine is usually lost in small amounts but it can be a continuous stream or a complete leakage. What causes urinary incontinence?

     Well, to start, urinary incontinence is a condition much more common in women than men. Men can experience urinary incontinence as a result of having or being treated for prostrate conditions. Some of the causes in women are attributed to weakened pelvic floor muscles, childbirth, certain surgeries (such as a hysterectomy), neurological disorders (strokes or multiple sclerosis), diet, side effects of medication, medical conditions such as diabetes, and obesity. If you have any of the following symptoms you could be dealing with urinary incontinence: 1) Frequent urge to urinate even when the bladder is not full. 2) Frequent trips to the bathroom at night. 3) Involuntary loss of urine that can occur while exercising, coughing, sneezing or laughing. 4) Difficulty going out for a length of time during the day for fear of frequent bathroom use. 

     If you have experienced any one of these conditions, we here at South Bay Sports & Physical Therapy can help. Physical therapy can increase the strength in the "Pelvic Floor Muscles" that control the urine. Biofeedback is used as an auditory and visual tool to see if you have weakness in the pelvic floor muscles. Biofeedback is a monitoring tool of a specific physical activity by monitoring the electrical activity of the muscle. In the case of urinary incontinence, it is monitoring the pelvic floor muscles by producing a graph on a hand held unit or by producing a sound. It gives a person feedback of muscle activity or lack of muscle activity of the pelvic floor muscles. The patient is evaluated with the biofeedback unit to see a baseline of muscle strength so improvement can be checked regularly. Biofeedback is also used as a treatment tool, and there is a home biofeedback unit that can be used to guide muscle strengthening. 

     If in fact muscle weakness is the cause, we can teach you how to contract these muscles. With our new Women's Health Service, we can provide strength training in the pelvic floor muscles right here at South Bay Sports & Physical Therapy which will also incorporate a home exercise program. The frequent urge to urinate even when the bladder is not full is a result of an overactive bladder.

     The act of urinating should be at least 8 seconds, and urinating in less that time is a sign that you really don't need to urinate. This condition can interfere with being away from home for any length of time. As with pelvic floor muscle weakness, with the use of biofeedback, a physical therapist can teach patients simple exercises that will retrain the bladder. Here are just a few of the treatment methods we use to help this condition: 1) Downtraining the Bladder teaches the patient how to relax the pelvic floor muscles 2) Push Outs (snake hissing) instructs the patient on how to relax the pelvic floor muscles 3) Bladder Training will teach the patient how to increase bladder storage capacity.

     There really is help for anyone suffering with urinary incontinence. We can help you to resume a normal functional lifestyle of work, exercise and play without fear of urinary problems. Physical therapy treatment plans for urinary incontinence is non-invasive, does not have any significant side effects, it affordable when compared to other alternatives and it covered by most insurances. Improvement can be seen within four weeks with daily exercises and attending Physical Therapy one time a week. The patient will begin to notice less urine leakage, less urge to urinate, and overall improvement in quality of life. Call your physician today and get a referral to set up an appointment. Once you make sure that you are medically cleared, have your physician write a prescription for us to evaluate and treat urinary incontinence. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to limit their lifestyle or fear any social embarrassment.

     Our "Women's Health Program" also offers treatment for Pelvic Organ Prolapse, Vulvar Vestibulitis, Urinary Dysfunction, Osteroporosis and Osteoarthritis. If you want to learn more, call to find out when our next Urinary Incontinence free will be held at South Bay Sports & Physical Therapy, 1160 Montauk Highway, Copiague, NY 11726. Here are just a few comments by patients who attended our  last lecture:

     "Specific & knowledgeable. Comfortable listening and talking about the subject."  "I thought the class was very important to know.  It was simple and to the point." "This lecture was very informative and I learned a lot. All questions were answered."

     Susan Natoli is a physical therapist at South Bay Sports and Physical Therapy. She can be reached at (631) 842-4606.