Incontinence is mainly thought of as leaking urine, but it can also include bowel leakage as well. There are two types of incontinence. One is called stress incontinence and that includes when you lose urine when the pelvic floor is stressed, such as coughing, sneezing, running, and lifting. Urge incontinence can be described as having a trigger that creates the urge to urinate, such as turning your key in the door as you’re getting home.
Causes of urinary or bowel stress incontinenceinclude pelvic floor muscle weakness or shortening. When a woman gives birth vaginally, pelvic floor muscles are stretched, cut, and/or torn during delivery. This results in weakness of the pelvic floor muscles – the muscles that are responsible for support of our organs, including the bladder. When pelvic floor muscles are shortened, or in a contracted state (spasm) for a long period of time, the muscles become weak and cannot do their job.
Urge incontinence can be contributed to weakness of the pelvic floor muscles and lack of coordination/control of the muscles.
Your physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation to assess your symptoms. Being the evaluation will be internal and external, you and your therapist will work together to ensure your comfort throughout the entire process. If your therapist feels you may need further examination or testing, she will refer you to an MD.
Stress incontinence can be treated with first focus on relieving any adhesions or shortened musculature followed by strengthening of the pelvic floor to avoid leakage of urine.With urge incontinence, treatment will focus on retraining and controlling your pelvic floor muscles to fight the urge to urinate.