Treating Incontinence with Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

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Treating Incontinence with Pelvic Floor Physical TherapyDr. Bianca-Alexis Ferrante PT, DPT

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy (PT) is not a term most are familiar with; however, it is something that many women would benefit from at one time or another within their lives. Do you suffer from abdominal pain, urinary frequency, urinary or bowel incontinence, constipation, pain related to your menstrual cycle, pain with intercourse, low back or hip pain? These are all topics that women either hide from, feel completely ashamed of, or think of as a “normal” part of aging and that nothing can be done for. I tell my patients constantly that just because something is common does not mean it is normal. These uncomfortable issues can be addressed, and you can return to the life you love, symptom free and pain free.

The group of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that act as a sling to your organs in your pelvic region is called your pelvic floor. These muscles have an important part in urination, bowel movements, and sexual intercourse. 

It is important to note that men have a pelvic floor and may suffer from many of the above-mentioned problems. Although this is the case, at Revive Health & Wellness, Pelvic Floor PT is only provided to women. Even though I treat all of the symptoms listed above, the main focus of this article is incontinence. 

Do you leak urine when you laugh, cough, or sneeze? Do you leak urine when you lift or run? Do you have to go to the bathroom 10-20 minutes after you just went? Do you feel like you have to urinate immediately afterwards because you feel you haven’t emptied your bladder completely? Do you double and triple check if you have to go to the bathroom before leaving the house? Do you have to urinate when you hear running water? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may have incontinence. 

Stress incontinence is when urine leaks with physical exertion, such as laughing, sneezing, jumping, running, lifting objects, etc. Urge incontinence, also known as overactive bladder, is when you experience a strong, overwhelming urge to urinate immediately. Many times, it is associated with leakage of urine prior to making it to the bathroom; however, not always. This type of incontinence can also be associated with urinary tract infections and neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. Mixed incontinence is when one experiences both stress and urge incontinence. This can take longer to address, but is definitely treatable. Overflow incontinence is when the bladder never fully empties, becoming overfull and distended, causing leakage of urine. Lastly, functional incontinence is when one has another unrelated condition that limits getting to the bathroom in time, causing urinary incontinence. Medications, dementia, arthritis, and functional or cognitive decline can all be causes of functional incontinence.

Most think of incontinence with the elderly, however women of all ages can experience these symptoms. Incontinence can occur immediately after giving birth, or several years after having children. Adolescents and teenagers can also experience these symptoms.

Incontinence treatment involves strengthening the core and pelvic floor muscles, and relaxation and retraining of the bladder. Strengthening can be accomplished with Pilates, yoga poses, Kegels, functional activities, and exercises. Retraining the bladder can be simple (e.g. 2 hour bathroom schedule) or complex (e.g. steps to prevent an overwhelming urge). Treatment depends on the severity and type of incontinence. 

At Revive Health & Wellness, I utilize a holistic, whole body approach with Pelvic Floor PT. Manual therapy, including Myofascial Release, Cupping, and Muscle Energy Technique, are incorporated with each treatment plan. Equally important are mindset, relaxation, and body awareness. If your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) is constantly in overdrive, it can exacerbate your incontinence symptoms. Body awareness correlates with mindset and is essential in performing exercises properly and in retraining the bladder. All these components are essential to a well-balanced treatment session. 

If you seek treatment for incontinence or any of the issues mentioned in this article, please contact 

Revive Health & Wellness at 302-482-2237 or email [email protected]

Dr. Bianca-Alexis Ferrante is the owner & founder of Revive Health & Wellness. A graduate of the University of Hartford, she treats women with pelvic floor dysfunction. After graduation, Dr. Ferrante worked in various physical therapy settings (skilled nursing facility, outpatient, acute care hospital, and home health care). While treating rehab patients, Dr. Ferrante saw the correlation between aligning the body and successful treatment of incontinence and pelvic discomfort. The Herman and Wallace Pelvic Floor courses provided her with the knowledge to properly treat these patients. Seeing how women were limiting themselves and not living life to their potential, instilled the desire within her to create an environment that would empower women to heal. 

Treating Incontinence with Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

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