"I was diagnosed with chronic pelvic pain and nothing seemed to be able to alleviate the discomfort for very long. After coming to see Dr. Huitt and her team, I am starting to get my life back and actually enjoy swimming and walking again!" - Jean
PELVIC FLOOR DISORDERS
Did you know . . . Pelvic Health is more than just treating urinary incontinence and pelvic pain. The health of your pelvic floor muscles can affect sexual health, musculoskeletal issues, mobility and digestive disorders.
Thankfully, there are many effective treatment options.
Physical therapy can help you regain control, typically, in a twice per week program lasting six to eight weeks.
Each individual’s program is designed to correct their particular circumstances. Typically, therapies to help pelvic floor disorders include:
- Musculoskeletal Evaluation
- Electromyography (biofeedback) evaluation of the pelvic floor muscles
- Bladder diary and pelvic floor education
- Instruction/training of the pelvic floor muscles during lifting and exertion coupled with proper breathing
- Pelvic floor muscle re-education/strengthening/training using biofeedback
- Instruction in proper posture for fecal elimination
- Electrical stimulation for pelvic floor re-education and strengthening (as needed)
- Abdominal stabilization/Core 4 exercises for pelvic girdle support
Our specially trained therapists design a individualized program, which includes a detailed home exercise program with on-going patient education.
"What is Urinary Incontinence?"
Urinary incontinence refers to any time that you lose urine when you don’t want to. Along with leaking, there may be other symptoms:
Urgency: A strong desire to urinate, even when the bladder is not full. Pelvic discomfort or pressure sometimes accompanies this.
Frequency: Urinating more than six to eight times a day or more than once every two hours (with normal fluid intake).
Nocturia: Awakening from sleep because of the urge to urinate. This varies with age and is not necessarily abnormal until it occurs regularly more than two or three times a night.
Basic Bladder Control
The bladder’s job is to store and empty urine. When the bladder becomes full, your brain tells your bladder to relax. You then feel the urge to urinate.
You then urinate by relaxing your sphincter and contracting the bladder’s detrusor muscle. This pushes the urine out of your body through a tube called the urethra. Strong sphincter and pelvic floor muscles help keep the urethra closed until you’re ready to urinate.
The first step is making an appointment to discuss your problem with your physician, so that any medical conditions that may result in a loss of bladder control may be ruled out. However, physical therapy can help treat incontinence.
There are two major types of urinary incontinence that benefit form physical therapy treatment: stress and urge.
Stress incontinence involves the sudden involuntary loss of urine when you impose a force on the muscles, such as done by laughing, jumping, or sneezing. Urine leakage occurs as a result of weak pelvic floor muscles and poor ligament.
Urge Incontinence happens when as soon as you get the urge to urinate, leakage occurs. The sensation is over whelming, your bladder contracts at the wrong time, and your can’t control it.
Physical therapists use a variety of methods to help their patients correct pelvic floor dysfunction. Physical therapy exercises and modalities can strengthen and coordinate pelvic floor muscles. Bladder retraining can assist by regaining regular urinary cycles. Additionally, lifestyle choices, such different food and drink options, may be discussed so that the bladder will be less irritable. Together, you and your therapist can help you regain proper functioning of your bladder and life activities.
"What is Fecal Incontinence?"
Fecal incontinence is having an uncontrolled bowel movement. Frank fecal incontinence is loss of solid or liquid stool. Precursor symptoms include soiling, fecal urgency, and flatulence (gas loss). Although a person may feel as though a bowel movement occurs when it is not intended, fecal incontinence refers to the repeated occurrence of unwanted bowel movements.
Causes of fecal incontinence:
1) Muscle damage– Common in childbirth with forceps and episiotomy deliveries. This may also result from rectal surgery, inflammatory bowel disease, or an abscess in the perirectal area.
2) Nerve damage - Childbirth, severe constipation, diabetes, spinal cord tumors, and multiple sclerosis can all have damaging effects on the nerves, especially the puedendal nerve, in the rectal sphincter that control bowel movements.
3) Decreased elasticity - Surgery, radiation, and childbirth can shock and scar the rectum, causing it to stiffen.
4) Anal sphincter mechanical dysfunction - Muscle and fascia strain sometimes occurs post delivery due to straining when voiding.
Physical Therapy Fecal Incontinence Treatment Options
- Pelvic floor rehabilitation—normalize pelvic floor function at rest and upon contraction
- Electrical stimulation—vaginal, rectal (internal or external)
- Neuromuscular re-education —vaginal, rectal, internal
- Facilitation– 63-74% Myofascial success with techniques to increase or decrease muscle tension
- Weights, rectal or vaginal air pressure measurements, EMG muscle recording during exercise
- Home exercise program for pelvic floor muscle exercises and core stabilization - including back and abdominal muscle strengthening for spine support
- Bowel retraining
- Perineal support during eliminating and orthotic usage during activities of daily living
- Integration of pelvic floor contractions during activities of daily living
- Diet education to firm feces