Incontinence affects 1-in-3 women and 1-in-10 men. Even though urinary incontinence is a very common problem affecting mostly women it is NOT normal. You should NOT leak urine when coughing, sneezing, lifting, exercising or during intercourse.
In addition, you should be able to control the urge to empty the bladder and not keep going to the toilet “just in case”. Many people do not report their symptoms and so put up with poor bladder control and accidents for years. However, more than 70% of people suffering from urinary incontinence symptoms improve with specialised physiotherapy assessment and treatment.
Types of incontinence include:
• Stress urinary incontinence is the symptom of involuntary leakage of urine on sneezing, coughing, laughing or exertion.
• Urge urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine associated with or immediately preceded by urgency (a sudden compelling desire to urinate that is difficult to delay). This is also known as the “latchkey urgency” due to the fact that symptoms can come on when putting the key in the door when returning home.
• Mixed urinary incontinence is the presentation of stress and urge incontinence symptoms.
• Overactive Bladder is urgency with or without urgency incontinence and usually with frequency and nocturia.
• Overflow incontinence is a loss of urine due to over-filling of the bladder because it is unable to empty properly. The bladder may be unable to empty due to obstruction (enlarged prostrate, scar tissue, constipation) or because the bladder muscle is unable to effectively squeeze the urine out. There maybe difficulty starting the flow, a weak stream, straining to empty or a constant dribble.
Your visit to a Chartered Physiotherapist who specialises in incontinence issues will include a detailed assessment analysing the symptoms, assessing pelvic floor muscles and identifying habits that maybe contributing to the symptoms. They will monitor your symptoms at each visit, progress your treatment as appropriate and will liaise with your GP, consultant, or other health care professionals as required.
The specific treatment options for urinary incontinence may include:
• Individualised exercise program to improve pelvic floor strength and function
• Strategies for bladder retraining
• Release of the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles
• Biofeedback for pelvic floor re-education
• Electrical muscle stimulation with internal or external electrodes