Pelvic floor physical therapy involves guided activities to address muscle dysfunction of the pelvic girdle. When these muscles aren’t functioning as they should, it can lead to symptoms that interfere with daily functions. Some of the conditions commonly treated by a pelvic floor physical therapist include urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, post-surgical conditions of the pelvic and abdominal region, pelvic region prolapse, pre- and post-partum.
Let’s dive into some more information on urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence involves the involuntary loss of urine and can be triggered by many different things. The two most common types of urinary incontinence are stress and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence involves urinary leakage associated with effort or physical exertion, such as changes in position, coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, or jumping. Urge incontinence is leakage associated with being unable to suppress the urge, meaning that when the feeling of needing to urinate comes on it is sudden and severe and you are unable to make it to the bathroom without experiencing leakage. This can commonly be associated with triggers such as pulling into your driveway or putting your key into the door. Many people believe that leakage after pregnancy or with increasing age is normal, but that is not the case! Although it is common, it is not considered to be “normal” and may be suggestive of pelvic girdle dysfunction.
Let’s also discuss some information on healthy bladder habits. Intaking enough fluids is very important, with the goal of drinking ½ your body weight in ounces of fluid each day, 2/3 of which should be plain water. So, for example, if you weigh 150 pounds you should aim to drink at least 75 ounces of fluids each day, with at least 50 of those ounces being plain water. It is also important to be conscious of the amount of bladder irritants you are consuming, including alcohol, caffeine, citrus, tomatoes, spicy foods, chocolate, carbonated drinks, and artificial sweeteners, as these can lead to increased urinary urgency and frequency.
Other healthy habits include no “just in case” voiding, meaning attempting to empty the bladder without feeling the urge and solely going due to convenience, as this can create an unhealthy habit. Furthermore, do not hover over the toilet seat when going as this does not allow your pelvic floor muscles to properly relax and may lead to incomplete emptying or feeling like you need to strain to empty your bladder. Typical voiding patterns include urinating every 2-4 hours with a total of 5-8 voids per 24 hours, and up no more than 1 time throughout the night to urinate.
If you feel that pelvic floor physical therapy may be beneficial for you, give us a call to learn more or to schedule an evaluation.
Paige Hentrich, PT, DPT, ATC, is a Physical Therapist at Unified Therapy Services who treats patients with incontinence and other pelvic floor issues. Please call us at 563-583-4003 to schedule a consultation or visit www.unifiedtherapy.com for a complete list of services.