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How physiotherapy can help pelvic floor problems and incontinence

How physiotherapy can help pelvic floor problems and incontinence


Many individuals who experience problems with pelvic floor weakness and incontinence often feel embarrassed and let their conditions go untreated. There are a significant number of people in Ireland who suffer with pelvic floor conditions, both men and women. However, these conditions tend to be more common in women. As many as 1 in 3 women experience incontinence.

The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that stretch from the pubic bone in front to the bottom of the backbone like a hammock. These firm supportive muscles help to support the bladder and bowel, and in women the womb, and to close the bladder outlet and back passage. When functioning correctly, these muscles prevent leakage of urine from the bladder and control bowel movements. When these muscles are put under extra pressure, such as during pregnancy, issues can occur.

It is important to keep in mind that these conditions can affect anyone, at any age and at anytime.


Symptoms to look out for…

A chartered physiotherapist with experience in treating incontinence can easily treat many of the symptoms of pelvic floor weakness and incontinence. An assessment is generally required in order to determine which condition you are suffering from.

Symptoms of a weak pelvic floor include:

  • Leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, walk, run or play sport
  • An inability to control wind
  • An internal heaviness or dragging sensation in the pelvic region
  • Difficulty deferring the urge to pass urine or bowel motions
  • A need to pass urine more frequently

The main sign of stress incontinence is when you experience urine leakage when coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting something heavy, during exercise or during intercourse. Activities that exert force on both the abdominal and pelvic muscles can put pressure on the bladder. As the pelvic floor muscles are weakened, it is harder for them to prevent a leakage from occurring.

Urge incontinence is diagnosed by an inability to control the urge to pass urine and a loss of control over bladder function. Individuals who experience these symptoms may find that they are not making it to the bathroom in time or that they always feel a need to urinate just in case. Urge incontinence is caused by abnormal bladder contractions.

A prolapsed uterus occurs when organs inside the pelvis fall, bulge or protrude into the uterine wall. It is usually identified by the following symptoms:

  • A feeling of heaviness in the uterine area
  • A pulling or stretching feeling in the pelvic area
  • Pain when standing
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Frequent lower back pain
  • Loss of bladder or bowl control
  • Difficulty with bowel and bladder movements


How can physiotherapy help you?

Physiotherapy can play a significant role in managing problems caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. If there is weakness in the muscles, pelvic floor exercises are generally advised in order to help build up and strengthen these muscles. This will help improve bladder and bowel control. These exercises are very beneficial for treating and preventing future problems. In other cases, the pelvic floor muscles can be too tight, in which case muscle relaxation exercises will be prescribed.

Your chartered physiotherapist will guide and ensure that you are doing your exercises correctly. It is important to become aware of where the pelvic muscles are and how to contract them properly in order to strengthen them correctly. Either lying comfortably on your back or sitting down usually carries out these exercises. Your chartered physiotherapist can advise you on habits for keeping your bladder healthy. This will include tips on keeping hydrated, eating enough fibre to avoid constipation and avoiding bathroom trips ‘just in case’.

Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic, our clinic director Aileen MaGuire is trained in treating bladder and bowel conditions. If you have any questions regarding pelvic floor conditions or wish to have an assessment, please get in contact with us here.

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