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Can Physiotherapy Help With Urinary Incontinence?

Updated: Nov 14

Urinary incontinence refers to urinary tract incompetency. The patient may face difficulty in holding urine, passing urine, and may also experience uncontrolled leakage. Among other treatment methods, physiotherapy for urinary incompetency is highly effective in curing your bladder control issues.


If incontinence is not managed well, it may affect your daily routine and may adversely affect your self-esteem or gives you feelings of rejection as you may avoid going out due to inconvenience. Urinary incontinence has a profound effect on mental health on individuals.


What Is Urinary Incontinence?


Individuals suffering from urinary incontinence (UI) may feel a sudden urge to pee, unable to control their urge to pee, and may also experience unexpected leakage while performing their daily routine.


Patients experience UI due to weakness of pelvic floor muscles or problems with the muscles that help the bladder hold urine. Pelvic floor muscles are attached to the pelvic bone and run from front to the back and serve as the base of your core. The primary function of the pelvic muscle is to support the bladder, bowel, and uterus (in women). These muscles can be weakened by pregnancy, childbirth, prostate cancer treatment, obesity, and straining during bowel movements.


Types Of Urinary Incontinence


Four major types of urinary incontinence are:


  1. Urgency Incontinence: In urgency incontinence, the patient may be unable to hold urine till they reach the restroom. They may often feel a sudden and strong urge to urinate.

  2. Stress Incontinence: In stress incontinence, the patient may experience leakage with exertion such as while exercising, coughing, sneezing, jumping, lifting a heavy object, or performing any other regular task.

  3. Functional Incontinence: Functional incontinence is referred to when the patient is unable to reach the toilet due to factors outside of lower urinary tract.

  4. Overflow Incontinence: Overflow incontinence is referred to when urine produced is more than the bladder's capacity.


Who Is More Likely To Get Urinary Incontinence?


Both men and women can get affected by urinary incontinence and there are no limitations on age. People of any age group can experience urinary incontinence. However, women are more likely to get urinary incontinence after the age of 50 years.


Causes Of Urinary Incontinence


Although urinary incontinence is usually diagnosed in old age men and women, the causes of it are not related to aging. You may experience UI because of changes in your body function, the use of certain medication, or any underlying illnesses. In women, UI is experienced during pregnancy, after childbirth, and during and after menopause due to hormonal changes. In men, the cause of UI may derive from complication in surgery such as prostatectomy, a surgery that remove prostate cancer.


Constant lifting of heavy objects, prolonged coughing, and obesity are some other causes of urinary incontinence.


What Are The Symptoms?


The symptoms of urinary incontinence may vary from person to person. Some common symptoms are:

  • Leakage of urine in case of sneeze or coughing.

  • Frequent urge to urinate.

  • Leakage because of exercise or sudden movements.

  • Unable to hold urine and have to rush to the toilet.

  • Sudden leakage of urine that causes embarrassment.

  • Still feel the need to urinate after passing urine.

  • Continued leakage of urine.


If you experience one or more of the above-mentioned symptoms, you should consult your doctor. These symptoms may or may not be a sign of urinary incontinence.


Physiotherapy For Urinary Incontinence


One of the major causes of urinary incontinence is the weakness of pelvic floor muscles. Aging and childbirth are some reasons why pelvic floor muscles weaken and you may experience urinary incontinence because of it. Fortunately, physiotherapy is a successful method for treating weak pelvic floor muscles and urinary incontinence.


A physiotherapist will analyze your condition and design a targeted exercise therapy method to decrease your symptoms and reduce the chances of surgery to treat UI.


Your physiotherapy treatment program may include:


  • Pelvic Floor Exercises: Your physiotherapist will teach you how to do pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercise, to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve your bladder function and ability to hold urine.

  • Biofeedback: In pelvic floor muscles training with biofeedback, an internal sensor is used to measure the strength and activity of your pelvic floor muscles. The sensor is connected to a machine which electrical signal of weak muscles becomes visible. This has shown clinically to be a more effective way to learn how to control pelvic floor muscles and to improve their strength.

  • Electrical Simulation: Your physiotherapist may also use electrical simulation to send a mild electric current to your nerves involved in the role of bladder function. It is often used for patients with urgency incontinence. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) that targets the pelvic floor muscles can also enhance the muscle activation and improve stress urinary incontinence.

  • Real-Time Ultrasound: Real-time ultrasound technique is also used to ensure proper coordination of pelvic floor muscles and abdominal wall muscles. This also improves awareness of pelvic floor and abdominal wall functions.


Depending on your type of urinary incontinence and symptoms of urgency, your physiotherapist may use one or more of the above methods to treat your condition.


We hope this guide is useful to help you understand how physiotherapy can be beneficial for urinary incontinence. If you wish to consult a physiotherapist, feel free to reach out for more information.


The Physio Studio is one of the leading physiotherapy clinics in Singapore. Our friendly team of expert physiotherapists can help improve or cure your urinary incontinence symptoms.

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