You may be embarrassed to admit that you have urinary incontinence (UI). It’s also possible that you may believe your UI only occurs when you laugh too hard or because you’re getting older. No matter what your feelings are about UI, physical therapists can help you manage and treat this pelvic condition. 

What is urinary incontinence?

Simply put, urinary incontinence is a condition where people experience a loss of bladder control. The National Association for Continence (NAFC) reports that more than 25 million Americans experience this condition daily. This loss of control may come in the form of occasional leakage. It may also be a much more problematic and urgent sensation. In some cases, people may feel such a strong urge to urinate that they don’t think they’ll make it to a toilet in time. 

Common types of urinary incontinence

Most medical professionals recognize five common types of UI. These are: 

  • Urge incontinence — You experience a sudden urge to urinate followed by a loss of bladder control. Urge incontinence is often caused by poorly timed bladder muscle contractions. 
  • Stress incontinence — This type of incontinence occurs when physical pressure on the bladder leads to urine leakage. Stress incontinence is common in pregnant women. 
  • Mixed incontinence — Those who experience a mix of urge and stress incontinence have mixed incontinence. Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common cause of this type of incontinence. 
  • Functional incontinence — Older people often experience this form of incontinence. It can be caused by cognitive issues like dementia. Functional incontinence can be triggered by muscular problems related to conditions like arthritis. 
  • Overflow incontinence — Overflow incontinence occurs when your bladder doesn’t fully empty. Men with prostate problems often develop this type of incontinence. 

What can cause you to develop urinary incontinence?

There are many different issues that can cause you to develop urinary incontinence. Some of the more common causes of UI include: 

  • Pregnancy — The chemical changes caused by pregnancy cause pelvic floor muscles and other muscles to relax, which can lead to UI. The position and growth of the baby can also put pressure on the bladder. As a result, you may experience pressure incontinence. 
  • Damage from surgery — There are many surgeries that can lead to pelvic tissue damage that can lead to UI. For women, such surgeries include hysterectomies and cesarean sections. Hernia surgery and prostatectomies can cause UI to develop in men. 
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction — The pelvic floor muscles help control the flow of urine through the urethra. Weak or loose pelvic floor muscles have a tougher time closing off the urethra. As a result, you may experience urine leakage. 

How can physical therapists help address urinary incontinence?

A physical therapist is trained to treat the human musculoskeletal system, which includes the pelvic floor and other structures involved in bladder control. These specialists can work with people who have UI to improve the physical function of their pelvic floor and other muscles. They can also help people learn to manage their UI symptoms. A few of the therapy methods your therapist may use to help address your UI include: 

  • Pelvic floor rehab — The muscles of the pelvic floor can be stretched and strengthened just like any other muscle. Pelvic floor rehab typically involves your physical therapist showing you how to improve pelvic floor strength and flexibility. Your rehab sessions may also involve biofeedback training designed to help you improve your control over the structures involved in urination. Additionally, breathing exercises may be used to relieve stress. This can help reduce tension in tense bladder muscles. 
  • Soft tissue mobilization — This is a hands-on therapy method. Its goals are to reduce tension and break up scar tissue in muscles and other soft tissue. Soft tissue mobilization can be used to meet these goals for pelvic soft tissue. In turn, it can help physical therapists address your UI symptoms.
  • Therapeutic exercises — Muscles in your abdomen, lower back and hips work with the pelvic floor muscles. If any of these muscles are weak or tight, the pelvic floor has to work harder. Your therapist can show you how to do therapeutic exercises that can help. Such exercises can help boost flexibility, strength and endurance is muscles that work with your pelvic floor muscles. 

SSOR offers effective treatment for urinary incontinence

Are you struggling with urinary incontinence? Our SSOR team includes physical therapists who can help you manage and treat UI. Attending a free screening with us can help you learn the source of your UI and how we can help you. Additionally, our specialists are adept at building personalized therapy plans intended to fit each patient’s specific needs and goals. 

Contact Us today at Westwood, Shawnee, Prairie Village & Overland Park, KS for more information about how our team can help you with UI or to schedule your initial appointment.