As a pelvic floor physiotherapist, I often treat patients complaining of urinary leakage. Did you know that approximately 1 in 3 women will experience urinary incontinence at some point in their life? That is a high proportion of our population! Urinary incontinence can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable issue, and it affects millions of people around the world. Although urinary leakage is common it is definitely NOT normal.
In this blog I will discuss:
what urinary incontinence is
the different types of urinary incontinence
the role of the pelvic floor in urinary incontinence
how pelvic physiotherapy can treat urinary incontinence
alternative treatments for urinary incontinence (some of which are offered at Shift Physiotherapy & Wellness)
What Exactly is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is a condition where a person loses control over their bladder, resulting in involuntary leakage of urine.
What are the Different Types of Urinary Incontinence?
This type of incontinence occurs when there is pressure on the bladder, such as during coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise. It is the most common type of urinary incontinence, and it is more common in women than in men. Stress incontinence can be caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles, which can be due to pregnancy, childbirth, or aging. Alternatively some people have tight pelvic floor muscles that struggle to relax. This can affect how the pelvic floor muscles function and if function isn’t optimal it can contribute to stress urinary incontinence.
This type of incontinence occurs when there is a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by the involuntary loss of urine. Urge incontinence is often caused by an overactive bladder, which can occasionally be due to neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, or spinal cord injuries. It can also be caused by bladder irritation, such as from a urinary tract infection. Keep in mind that many people experience urge incontinence even without an underlying infection or neurological condition.
This type of incontinence is a combination of stress and urge incontinence. People with mixed incontinence may experience leakage when there is pressure on the bladder, as well as a sudden urge to urinate.
This type of incontinence occurs when the bladder is unable to empty completely, leading to leakage of urine. Overflow incontinence is more common in men than in women, and it can be caused by an enlarged prostate, bladder stones, or other obstructions.
This type of incontinence occurs when a person has a physical or cognitive impairment that prevents them from reaching the bathroom in time. Functional incontinence can be caused by conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson's disease, or dementia.
Now you know all about the different types of urinary incontinence. Each type can have its own causes and treatments. If you are experiencing any type of urinary incontinence, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Did you know that you can book in with myself or one of our other outstanding pelvic floor physiotherapists at Shift without a referral? If you are experiencing incontinence and still haven’t been for a pelvic floor physiotherapy appointment, you should definitely consider booking an initial consultation with one of our team members.
What is the Role of the Pelvic Floor in Urinary Incontinence?
The pelvic floor is a complex network of muscles, ligaments, and tissues that support the pelvic organs. The pelvic floor muscles are responsible for controlling the release of urine, as well as maintaining stability and support for the pelvic organs, including the bladder. When these muscles become weak, damaged, or tight incontinence can result.
What Exactly is Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy?
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a type of physical therapy that focuses on the pelvic floor, pelvis and surrounding structures. The pelvic floor muscles play a crucial role in controlling bladder function, and weakening, tightening or damage to these muscles can lead to many different conditions including urinary incontinence. Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help to alleviate symptoms of urinary incontinence and improve your overall pelvic health.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help to address incontinence by improving the strength, relaxation and control of the pelvic floor muscles. Our highly trained pelvic floor physiotherapists at Shift will assess your specific needs and develop a personalized treatment plan to help you regain control over your bladder function.
Your pelvic floor physiotherapist will likely ask you to complete a bladder diary after your initial assessment. Bladder diary results help your physiotherapist determine what needs to be done for bladder retraining. You may be taught techniques such as timed voiding, urge suppression or double voiding. Your pelvic floor physiotherapist may also discuss some environmental and lifestyle changes to set you up for success!
Pelvic physiotherapy treatment may involve a combination of exercises, such as pelvic floor muscle exercises (also known as Kegels), as well as manual therapy to release tension in the muscles and surrounding tissues. Some of our pelvic physiotherapists (including myself) are trained in techniques such as visceral and acupuncture which can be used as additional modalities to help improve your symptoms. Your physiotherapist may also educate you on proper posture and body mechanics, as well as provide tips for managing your incontinence in daily life.
Your pelvic floor physiotherapy appointment always occurs in a private room setting at our clinic. Often an internal exam is indicated so that your pelvic floor physiotherapist can determine how your pelvic floor is currently functioning and what will be needed for your home program. That being said, we do have ways to check your pelvic floor ability externally. If you are nervous or reluctant to have an internal exam please discuss this with your pelvic floor physiotherapist during your initial consultation and alternative options for assessment will be discussed.
As a pelvic floor physiotherapist I don’t ONLY treat incontinence. In addition to improving incontinence, pelvic floor physiotherapy can also help to alleviate other symptoms such as pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse, diastasis recti abdominis. We also can help with preventative care during pregnancy as well as your postpartum recovery.
What are the Alternatives?
Alternatives to pelvic floor physiotherapy for treating incontinence include:
depending on the type of urinary incontinence you have
to be discussed with your family physician
now offered at Shift Physiotherapy & Wellness
(no referral required)
a surgical consultation
to be discussed with your family physician
It's important to note that pelvic floor physiotherapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution and results can vary from person to person. However, for many individuals, pelvic floor physiotherapy can provide significant improvement in pelvic health and incontinence symptoms. If you're experiencing incontinence or any other pelvic health issues, it's important to seek the guidance of a trained pelvic floor physiotherapist.
I hope this information helped you understand more about urinary incontinence and how our pelvic floor physiotherapists at Shift can help!
BSc, MScPT, Pelvic Physiotherapist, Clinic C0-Owner