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Having bladder problems can be distressing and socially disrupting. A lot of people who suffer from a bladder condition like urinary incontinence, often put off going for treatment out of embarrassment. However, it is important to remember that this condition is very common and easily treatable.
Although it is more commonly found in the elderly, urinary incontinence can affect both men and women at any stage during their lives. In order to effectively treat urinary incontinence it is important to be aware of what urinary incontinence is.
Urinary incontinence is commonly known as being the uncontrollable and accidental release of urine. This can happen by doing everyday activities such as coughing, sneezing, jogging and even laughing. Occasionally, it can be a short-term symptom caused by a urinary tract infection or by using certain medications.
There are three main types of urinary incontinence: stress incontinence, urge incontinence and overflow incontinence.
Stress incontinence is diagnosed if an individual tends to only leak a small to medium amount of urine whenever they cough, sneeze, and laugh or during exercise. Stress incontinence can be caused when the pelvic floor muscles are weakened and are unable to keep the urethra completely closed. Sudden pressure on the bladder may also cause small leakage of urine.
Urge incontinence can be more troublesome for sufferers. It happens when a person’s bladder is full and involves premature contraction. The sufferer typically finds that they are not able to get to a toilet in time when this happens. Most cases of this is thought to be caused by cystitis, a central nervous system problem or an enlarged prostate.
Overflow incontinence occurs when there is a blockage leading up to the bladder. Due to this blockage, a sufferer may not be able to empty their bladder completely causing leakages. An obstruction may be caused by an enlarged prostate gland, urinary stones or constipation.
Along with lifestyle changes like cutting down on caffeine, eating more fibre and watching your weight, physiotherapy is very effective in the treatment of urinary incontinence. Your physiotherapist will tailor your treatment programme specifically for the form of urinary incontinence that you have.
Pelvic floor exercises such as kegel exercises are very beneficial for treating urinary incontinence. Kegel exercises involve contracting the pelvic floor muscles and holding for a period of 5 seconds starting off. These exercises are a rehabilitation technique used to tighten and tone the pelvic floor muscles, which have become weak over time. It is important to do these with your physiotherapist firstly to ensure that you are engaging the correct muscles. As time goes on, you will be able to contract these muscles for longer periods of time.
In cases where patients find performing pelvic floor exercises difficult or their pelvic muscles are too weak, a physiotherapist may advise electrical or muscle stimulation which helps patients to stimulate and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
Biofeedback is often helpful for those who find it hard to locate their pelvic floor muscles while performing kegel exercises. With the help of computer graphs and audible noises, a physiotherapist can effectively measure your muscle strength and help you visually see the exercises working.
Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic, our clinic director, Aileen MaGuire is an expert in the management of complex urinary and bowel incontinence for both male and female patients. If you wish to book an appointment or have any questions regarding urinary incontinence, contact us here.