How Physio Can Help With Incontinence

If you are one of the 1 in 4 Australians suffering from bladder or bowel incontinence, did you know that physio may be able to help? When most people think about physiotherapy their brain jumps to muscular problems or injury rehabilitation, but there’s more to this branch of medicine than meets the eye. A physiotherapist, in particular a pelvic physiotherapist, can do wonders to help manage issues with incontinence, whether it be urge urinary incontinence, bowel incontinence, stress urinary incontinence, or any other issue under that umbrella.

But just how can pelvic physiotherapy help? In this guide, we’re going to outline everything you need to know about the amazing benefits pelvic floor physiotherapy can bring to patients dealing with incontinence issues.

How Physio Helps With Incontinence

As we touched on above, many patients don’t realise that physiotherapy is a wonderful tool for treating incontinence!

Many incontinence issues are rooted in conditions tied to the pelvic floor, a very important muscle located in the pelvic area. The pelvic muscles and pelvic region are responsible for some important organs, including the uterus, bowels, and rectum. When issues begin to affect a patient’s pelvic floor, they can cause issues for these organs.

A pelvic physiotherapist can help patients to identify if their incontinence may be related to the pelvic floor, and if it is, find a treatment plan suited to it. This is why we encourage all people dealing with incontinence to see a pelvic physiotherapist. Pelvic physiotherapy will help you to understand the cause of your symptoms and determine an appropriate management plan to rehabilitate.

Understanding the Types of Incontinence

The most helpful thing a pelvic health physiotherapist can do is help you identify the kind of incontinence issues you may be dealing with, so the issue can be properly treated. Some common types of incontinence physiotherapists will be able to identify include:

Stress Urinary Incontinence: A condition where patients experience bladder leakage when pressure is raised within the abdominal cavity. This is often associated with weakness in the pelvic floor muscles.

Urge Urinary Incontinence: Sometimes called urge incontinence, this is a condition where patients experience a very strong urge to urinate and leak on the way to the toilet. This is sometimes associated with increased urine frequency during the day and night.

Post-Micturition Dribble (PMD): Post-Micturition Dribble is a condition where a patient has an involuntary loss of urine after they have finished urinating. This is more prevalent in men but can occur in women too.

Nocturnal Enuresis: A condition where patients involuntarily urinate during sleep.

Overflow Urinary Incontinence: A condition where patients experience episodes of bladder or bowel leakage, as a result of the inability to empty their bladder or bowel voluntarily. This typically occurs when the bladder or bowel has become dangerously full.

What To Expect From Pelvic Physiotherapy

Those considering using physiotherapy to treat incontinence might be wondering what to expect. Here’s how your SPC physiotherapist will approach treating incontinence issues:

Tracking Issues With An Incontinence Diary

An incontinence diary is a handy tool used by physiotherapists to track and monitor urinary or feacal incontinence. This is part of the initial assessment, to help identify patterns and triggers of incontinence and to develop an appropriate, individualised treatment plan.

When treating incontinence, your physiotherapist may want you to track things like the frequency of bladder leakage, bladder pain, or other things they may want insight into. This will vary from patient to patient.

Conducting a Pelvic Physio Exam

As a part of your assessment, your physiotherapist will also assess your pelvic floor to check its function. This is usually done with an internal examination (vaginal or rectal) and/or ultrasound. When going to your first appointment, you can expect the following:

Medical History: To begin, your physiotherapist will want to start with your medical history, including any previous surgeries, childbirth, or medical conditions that may be behind the incontinence issues

Physical Examination: The physical examination will often involve a urinalysis (dipstick test of the urine), an ultrasound assessment to evaluate your ability to completely empty your bladder, and a pelvic floor examination. Your physiotherapist may ask you to disrobe for an internal examination. This is the gold standard assessment to evaluate the function of the pelvic floor muscles.

Ultrasound Assessment: Your physiotherapist may also want to conduct an ultrasound as a part of their exam. Ultrasound imaging can be useful to fully assess and gain insight into the function of the pelvic floor muscles and is excellent to provide you with visual feedback of your technique.

Prescribing Treatments

Once your physiotherapist has determined what specific issue is behind the incontinence, treatment can begin. There are many different treatment methods your physiotherapist may explore depending on your concern, some of which include:

Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises: Physiotherapy exercises are a wonderful tool used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles with pelvic floor muscle training. One popular exercise you might be prescribed that you’ve heard of before including the Kegel exercise. Kegels involve contracting and relaxing the muscles in the pelvic floor for better control and strength, helping to reduce urine leakage issues.

Biofeedback: femfit® by JUNOFEM is a pelvic floor training system powered by advanced biofeedback technology, clinically proven to resolve up to 80% of urinary incontinence symptoms in just 12 weeks. It is a brand new pelvic floor training device in Australia and Sydney Pelvic Clinic are the first to have access to this revolutionary technology! Discover a healthier, stronger pelvic floor, and resolve urinary incontinence symptoms with femfit®.

Bladder Training: Bladder training is a treatment method that works to teach patients how to control their urge to urinate. This can be approached in a few different ways and might look like slowly increasing the length of time between bathroom visits to help patients gain control, or learning techniques to relax the pelvic floor muscles and reduce the urge to urinate.

Lifestyle Changes: Medical professionals can also give patients advice on different lifestyle changes that they can make to help improve bladder control. This may include dietary changes, such as reducing caffeine and alcohol intake or avoiding certain foods that irritate the bladder. Stress reduction is another common suggestion, proven to reduce incontinence symptoms in some cases.

Receiving Help from Sydney Pelvic Clinic

If you are looking to pursue physiotherapy treatment for incontinence issues, our team is here to help! Sydney Pelvic Clinic has a wonderful team of qualified professionals eager to assist you with assessing, diagnosing, and treating your condition. To learn more and book a consultation with a pelvic health physiotherapist, click here.

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