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What is incontinence?

Woman suffering from Urinary Incontinence

How can a Physical Therapist help?

December 2016

What is Incontinence?

Incontinence is a very common condition among men and women. Incontinence is defined as the accidental leakage of urine at inappropriate times. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there are more than 13 million Americans who suffer from incontinence conditions.

Two types of Incontinence:

There are two main types of incontinence. Stress incontinence is when an individual leaks urine when there is abdominal stress pushing down on the bladder. For instance, when a person coughs, sneezes, or jumps, they exert pressure down onto the bladder. If the bladder muscles are not strong enough, or do not react fast enough, then a person may accidentally leak urine.

Urge incontinence is when the muscle around your bladder (the detrusor muscle) goes into spasm and you feel like you have to urinate, even when the bladder is not full enough. Sometimes the spasm is so big that you may accidentally leak urine. People with severe urge incontinence may feel the urge to urinate every 15 minutes.

While these are the two main types, some patients may have a mix of both stress and urge incontinence. Incontinence occurs when for a number of reasons when the pelvic floor muscles are not working properly. The causes of incontinence include:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth

  • Injury and trauma

  • Surgery to the pelvic area

  • Lack of exercise

  • De-conditioned muscles

  • Lack of use

A pelvic health trained Physical Therapist (PT) is a great person to treat your incontinence. After performing an initial evaluation, a PT can treat and educate you on your individual condition in order to restore control to your bladder. At Atlas Physical Therapy we have a number of highly trained therapists who have years of experience treating bladder problems.