Today we will talk about a problem which many men and women prefer not to discuss – incontinence. If you suffer from this then you certainly know how much it can affect your life. For many incontinence sufferers this means thinking where there are public toilets prior to leaving the house; some try not to drink too much water; yet others are too scared to leave the house for long periods of time altogether. If this is you then you can seek comfort from knowing that there are effective treatment options for this problem. The main thing is to start physiotherapy treatment as soon as possible. For this you will need to see a physiotherapist who specialises in incontinence treatment.
During the initial consultation the physiotherapist will determine which type of incontinence you have. Often incontinence is caused by activities which put pressure on the pelvic floor. In this case you will generally experience leakage when coughing, sneezing, laughing and lifting. It can also be associated with a feeling of urgency – for instance when approaching your home or the toilet. Sometimes this feeling can also be triggered by the cold weather, the sound of running water and other things.
Your physiotherapist will also talk to you about other issues which might be contributing to the incontinence. One of the main factors is our diet. Many people struggle to see the link between incontinence and diet but in our practice we see time and again how our patients’ diets, what they eat and drink, affects their incontinence. In line with this we often see how when our patients follow our recommendations and correct their diet their condition improves.
It is also very important for the physiotherapist to use Real Time Ultrasound in order to assess the core and pelvic floor muscles. The first step is always to teach our patients how to correctly engage their core. If you start training the pelvic floor muscles first there is a high chance that you will be activating them incorrectly. You should therefore only start working on the pelvic floor muscles after you have learnt how to correctly activate the core.
Once the cause and the contributing factors have been identified your physiotherapist will be able to provide you with a specific treatment plan. This plan will generally include specific exercises and dietary recommendations. As your core and pelvic floor muscle strength and endurance improves the exercises will become harder and more functional. Eventually you should be able to activate the core and pelvic floor muscles simultaneously when you stand, walk, cough, lift shopping bags or approach your house – i.e. in those circumstances which cause leakage.
In some circumstances electrotherapy can be very effective. This is especially useful for those patients who cannot achieve the desired outcomes through exercises alone. Clinical Pilates, which we discussed in one of our other broadcastings, is another very effective treatment option.
So remember that incontinence can be cured. Rather than continuing to suffer in silence speak to a qualified physiotherapist as soon as possible.