By Dr. Chris Mulvey, PT
Primary care physicians often refer patients with bladder control issues to urologists.
For issues like urine leakage, frequent urination, constipation or painful urination, urologists can recommend prescription medications or even surgery to relieve the problem.
However, there may be a non-surgical, non-drug option to consider – physical therapy.
November is Bladder Health Month, and FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers are helping patients understand how its Pelvic Health and Wellness Program will help them love their life.
First, it’s important to understand basic anatomy. An individual’s pelvic floor is comprised of skin, muscles, ligaments, connective tissue, nerves, blood vessels and organs in the pelvis. The pelvic floor supports the bladder, rectum and pelvic organs, so a pelvic floor disorder can create a variety of common bladder control problems, including:
• Urinary incontinence: The unintentional urine leakage of any amount, at any time.
• Urinary urgency: A sudden, strong urge to urinate that is difficult to defer.
• Urinary frequency: Having to urinate more than eight times in 24 hours.
• Nocturia: Being awoken more than once per night to urinate.
• Difficulty emptying the bladder: Inability to completely empty the bladder or having a very slow stream.
• Pelvic organ prolapse: A cystocele, or “dropped bladder,” where ligaments holding the bladder begin to sag.
Pelvic floor disorders are common and affect both men and women of all ages. About 35% of women and 25% of men experience some form of bladder control issues. Many individuals are embarrassed to seek help, but fail to consider how much their lives can improve after being treated. They can laugh, exercise and enjoy sex without fear of urine leakage. They can enjoy a good night’s sleep without waking every two or three hours. They can enjoy nature, long drives and movie nights without having to scramble to find a restroom.
Risk factors for incontinence include obesity, diabetes, neurological disease, smoking and age. The latter is particularly concerning. Seniors are more likely to develop bladder issues, including nocturia. When the urge to urinate arises, their bodies are half-asleep and it’s dark as they walk toward the bathroom. Numerous research studies have shown that seniors’ risks of falling increase dramatically the more times they use the bathroom at night.
At FYZICAL, physical therapists and physical therapist assistants can outline a series of exercises to strengthen muscles around the pelvic floor. Biofeedback can help retrain and reeducate the pelvic floor. Another option is electrical stimulation, which sends mild electric currents to nerves, a process that helps strengthen pelvic muscles and the lower back.
Slouching or sitting too long can put pressure on the bladder, so maintaining proper posture can have an impact on how often an individual urinates.
Pelvic floor disorders can create uncomfortable, embarrassing symptoms. After just a few visits to a physical therapist, though, a majority of patients report that symptoms have declined. There is no reason to let your bladder control your life.
About the Author
Dr. Chris Mulvey, PT, is president for company clinics at FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, which has 405 locations in 45 states.
For more information, please visit Fyzical.com.