Incontinence: Losing control is no laughing matter...


Pelvic health physiotherapy can help with incontinence

… which is just as well really because that might be what triggers it.


Or maybe it’s coughing, or sneezing or exercising that seems to bring it on. Whatever it is, we know how worrying it can be when cleaning the house or even just getting up out of a chair leads to leaking.


Perhaps the issue is that you’re not always getting enough warning when you need to go to the toilet and find that sometimes you don’t quite make it.


You may be experiencing a combination of both.


Losing control of your bladder or bowel (or both) can really knock your confidence, which often leads to feeling like you can’t do the things you want to. If you’ve ended up limiting your activities and social contact, or feel like you can’t leave the house without wearing an uncomfortable pad - you’re not alone. Many people like you are doing the same.


Also all too common is the feeling of embarrassment about incontinence. And unfortunately that’s what keeps a lot of people from seeking professional help and regaining control over their life.


If you’re experiencing any of the above and have hesitations about seeing someone, ask yourself:


Is this problem impacting your life negatively?


Has it been going on long enough that you’re worried it’s not normal?


Did you know that there are proven effective physiotherapy treatments for what you’re experiencing?


In this post pelvic health specialist Alison Middleton discusses:

  • different types of incontinence

  • common causes of urinary and bowel incontinence

  • what you can do to stop leakage

  • how physiotherapy can effectively treat the issue

Are there different types of incontinence?


There are several different types of incontinence, but these are the kinds we see most often in our clients.

  • Stress incontinence is when you leak urine when pressure is put on the bladder, e.g. coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or heavy lifting.

  • Urge incontinence is when the urge to urinate comes on suddenly and intensely.


The two can often occur in combination.


(Leaking from the bladder and/or bowel is also a common symptom of incontinence.)


What causes incontinence?


The primary cause of incontinence is weak pelvic floor muscles, which can occur at any age.


In women this may be the result of:

  • menopausal changes

  • pregnancy

  • childbirth / birth trauma

  • pelvic surgery

  • post menopause changes in pelvic floor strength

In men, loss of bladder control could happen because of:

  • prostate gland problems

  • prostate cancer and the incontinence that occurs after prostate surgery

Common causes of weakened pelvic floor muscles that could affect anyone, regardless of sex, also include:

  • lifestyle, e.g. a job that requires you to stand all day, or do repeated lifting

  • being overweight

  • never having exercised these muscles before


What can I do to stop the leaking?


The good news is that it is entirely possible to strengthen your pelvic floor.


Physiotherapy is an effective way to help “re-educate” those muscles and stop your leakage problem. By learning how to squeeze and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and following a personalised treatment plan, a physiotherapist can help you regain control.


So how does physiotherapy treatment for incontinence work?


In an initial appointment, we’ll discuss your full history, including when and how your symptoms came on and how they affect your life right now.


With your consent, we can also do an internal assessment to see if you can do a pelvic floor contraction correctly and - if so - how strong these muscles are.


I can then teach you how to squeeze and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and create an individualised pelvic floor strengthening programme based on your needs and baseline strength.


A hugely valuable aspect of treatment is re-educating the muscles during the tasks you experience the most problems with, whether that’s running, cleaning or coughing.


Over a longer period, review appointments will help to progress exercises and monitor progress to ensure all your goals are being met and your leaking problem is resolving steadily.


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If you’re suffering from incontinence in the Northeast and would like to do something about it, book an initial appointment with Alison or feel free to get in touch on 01467 633 444 with any questions.

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