Have you recently sneezed, coughed, laughed or made a sudden or quick movement that resulted in an accidental leakage of urine or gas? Has this leakage become more of an issue now that it is cough and flu season? Have you started to exercise more as a New Year’s resolution and notice small leaks of urine throughout your workout or when you walk or jog at a brisk pace? Our staff at Phoenix Physical Therapy wants you to know that this accidental leakage is NOT a normal part of aging and should not be chalked up to having children! We want you to know that although this is a very common issue for women, it is a sign of a problem that can be easily treated at our office. We specialize in helping women learn to manage these symptoms through simple, safe and effective exercises, tailored to the individual needs of the woman. You should first mention this to your physician or health care provider. Even though this problem is embarrassing and difficult to discuss, statistics show that it usually takes 6-7 years for a woman to express concern to her primary health care provider regarding this incontinence problem. Wouldn’t it be nice for you to learn how to improve this issue before it turns into a larger problem that you have to deal with year after year? This problem just doesn’t go away on its own despite wishful thinking!
Many of our patients are initially unaware of why these accidental leaks of urine or gas occur. In every male and female, there is a small muscle at the bottom of our pelvis that helps to support the bladder, urethra and colon. This muscle is called the pelvic floor muscle. Piercing this muscle are “tubes” that run from the bladder and colon to the outside of the body. Although this muscle is not readily visible, it is entirely under our control. This means we have the ability to contract and relax this muscle to control any form of accidental leakage. Because we cannot readily see this muscle it is often difficult to know how to make our muscle function in a timely or appropriate fashion. When there is an increase in abdominal pressure such as with a cough or sneeze, this increases pressure on the bladder and colon which then requires our pelvic floor muscle to hold the urethra and/or colon closed to ensure that urine or gas (or other) stays inside where it belongs! If the muscle is unable to function correctly, perhaps due to weakness, it becomes difficult to keep closure when this increase in pressure from the abdomen occurs. This is called stress incontinence. Common activities that can result in leakage include, but are not limited to, sneezing, coughing, laughing, lifting heavy objects, running and bending.
If you experience such leakage, rest assured! Our staff is skilled in teaching you how to use your pelvic floor muscles. If you learn how to use your pelvic floor muscle and you practice timing your muscle contraction prior to and during the activities that create your leaks, you will learn to retain your muscle to respond the way it was intended. In essence, you are learning to retrain your muscle. This is called the “Knack Maneuver” and is named because you have the knack to get the hang of it! It is all about precision timing of the contraction! It may take weeks of proper practice to see a difference, but our staff will help and encourage you with tips and suggestions to make your practice successful.
Incontinence is treatable! You shouldn’t have to resort to use of pads to protect yourself from accidental leakage. Waiting years to treat this problem only adds to prolonging your incontinence and pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Call us today! Nonna, Francesca, Meg or I are here to help you overcome this embarrassing problem. Our office manager, Linda, is ready to take your call.