The prostate gland is part of the male urinary system and sits under the bladder. If this gland becomes cancerous there are many treatment options from surveillance to surgery. The Irish Cancer Society has comprehensive information on cancer, follow the link here. See our links on urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction for some further information on the side effects of prostatectomy.
One of the side effects of removal of the prostate gland is urinary incontinence. This affects most men post-operatively and for 90%, their symptoms will fully resolve in 12-16 weeks. However, there are some things you can do when preparing for your surgery which can help the process of returning “to dry”. Exercising your pelvic floor pre-operatively has been shown to reduce the duration of urinary symptoms post-op. Think of it as switching from “automatic” to “manual”. During your daily life, your pelvic floor muscles “tick over” without any conscious input however, after surgery you will need this muscle to step up and provide more support to the urinary system. You can prepare the pelvic floor muscles by actively exercising them in the weeks before your surgery; pre-habilitation. Physiotherapy will teach you how to contract your pelvic floor muscles and give you a progressive exercise programme to follow before your surgery.
Post-surgery and active exercise programme for your pelvic floor muscles is a must. Learning to engage the muscle before activities such as: sitting to standing, pushing lawnmower to even swinging a golf club all help in regaining continence. Physiotherapy will ensure you are doing your pelvic floor exercises correctly and support you in progressing the programme as appropriate.
Erectile dysfunction is another common side effect of prostatectomy. While a strong pelvic floor muscle is required you may also need a course of vacuum pump therapy to maintain the health of penile tissues during your recovery. Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic works closely with Imedicare and your consultant to facilitate this service for our post-op patients.
One of the main contributory factors to pelvic pain is that of over-active pelvic floor muscles. When this happens, it means that these muscles never relax fully and there’s a constant high level of tension. This over activity can contribute to conditions such as chronic prostatitis, irritable bowel syndrome and post pelvic trauma. It can present as penile, testicular or groin pain with pain during urination or sexual activity.
Physiotherapy focuses on down training and releasing these muscles using techniques such as manual therapy, diaphragmatic breathing techniques and education. Actively contracting your pelvic floor muscles as per the often advertised strengthening programmes can be detrimental to this problem. It does require the intervention of a specialist Physiotherapist.
To find out more information about the services that Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic offer, contact us here.