TREATMENT FOR ADULT INCONTINENCE… NOT JUST DIAPERS TRY PHYSICAL THERAPY
Treatment for Adult Incontinence
by ACE Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute
Tid Bits of Info.
- Incontinence affects more than 25 million people in the US and 200 million around the world.
- Women are more commonly diagnosed with this condition, but all ages, races and sexes are subject to incontinence.
- It is common for Physical Therapy techniques to reduce or resolve the patient’s symptoms in 3-5 visits.
- Incontinence is not a “normal” part of getting older.
- If you are incontinent, seek the help of a certified Physical Therapist who will treat the symptoms and underlying problem .
Suffering from adult incontinence should not keep you from enjoying your life. It is treatable. While over 25 million Americans suffer discomfort and embarrassment from adult incontinence, there are physical therapy techniques that can help reduce or eliminate the problem. Treatment for adult incontinence is often limited to treating the symptoms through medications, diapers or other similar products. Physical Therapy techniques focus on resolving the underlying problems.
Adult incontinence is a form of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD). The pelvic floor is made of a group muscles, tendons and ligaments that act like a hammock and help to hold the organs: bladder, uterus (women), prostate (men) and rectum (the distal end of the large intestine that stores solid waste). These muscles contract and relax in conjunction with the abdominal muscles to help to control the functions of bowel and bladder. When the coordination between contracting and relaxing does not occur correctly, there is a malfunction in the system and the person will suffer from PFD. The muscles can be too weak to perform their job and or in spasm. There can be hypo or hyper-sensitivity to different structures in the pelvic region that leads to the dysfunction.
While adult incontinence is not particular to any race, age group or sex, women are diagnosed far more frequently than men. 80% of the diagnosed cases are women, but this could be due to the embarrassment some men face in discussing the symptoms. It is not necessarily even related to the aging process and there are high school age children that have been in treatment for the condition.
Adult incontinence is not a disease, but a treatable condition. Stress, urge and over-flow incontinence are the most common forms. Stress incontinence occurs when there is pressure on the bladder such as running, jumping, sneezing and coughing. The sphincter or valve that controls the release of urine from the bladder and/or the pelvic floor musculature cannot tolerate the amount of stress that is placed on it during these activities. Urge incontinence can be referred to as an “over-active” bladder and is neurological condition. The person suffering from urge incontinence has as strong and/or sudden urge to urinate. Over-flow incontinence is due to a blockage. An enlarged prostate or a growth can limit the release of urine. These people will have to go to the bathroom often and release a little bit at a time. They may “leak” out in between bathroom stops.
Historically, treatment for adult incontinence has relied upon medications and the use of adult diapers. In fact, Bloomberg Business predicts that the adult diaper industry will surpass the baby diaper industry in the next decade due to an aging population. These are simply treating the symptoms. There are ways to treat the actual source of the problem.
Physical Therapists utilize a range of specialized techniques and training to treat PFD and adult incontinence. Approximately 75% of all patients respond favorably and experience a significant reduction in their symptoms (many have total resolution). These techniques are painless and can include biofeedback which can be in several different forms. The therapist might use video or sensors that emit a signal when the pelvic floor muscle is active. This helps to teach the patient what the proper sensation should be when everything is “working correctly.” The therapist can utilize manual stimulation, massage or stretches that help to alleviate symptoms of tight or weak muscles.
Physical Therapists teach patients relaxation techniques and targeted strengthening exercises. There is even specialized equipment that can help to build strength and endurance of the involved muscles. The patient will be taught a good all-around exercise routine that will incorporate a fair amount of core strengthening exercises and activities.
Visiting a Physical Therapist who is certified to treat pelvic floor dysfunction and more specifically adult incontinence can be done without a trip to your doctor. You do not need a doctor’s prescription to see these healthcare professionals. You should call and ask if any Physical Therapists at a particular location are qualified to treat PFD. It is a specialty that many/most Physical Therapists do not have and are not certified or qualified to treat it.
Adult incontinence is an extremely common condition that is misunderstood and often times goes untreated due to embarrassment. The person suffering from adult incontinence usually changes their lifestyle to be able to “deal with” the symptoms. Seeking help and being treated by a certified Physical Therapist can have life changing results. Reducing the severity or resolution of the symptoms with Physical Therapy treatments is nearly guaranteed. These professionals are able to “give you your life back” and enable you to live again!
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