Tag Archives: bladder

women's health

The Benefits of Physical Therapy for Women’s Health

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Women’s health can cover a multitude of subjects, from pregnancy to aging – the female body undergoes many changes. Physical therapist’s most common women’s health clients come in experiencing incontinence, osteoporosis and pregnancy related back pain.

URINARY INCONTINENCE
Urinary incontinence is a loss of bladder control that results in leakage when the muscles of the pelvic floor are weak or overactive. Causes include child birth, hormonal changes, surgical trauma, pelvic fractures, chronic cough, obesity, muscle weakness or even repetitive lifting. Physical therapy can help decrease or resolve urinary leakage, identify bladder irritants and strengthen pelvic floor muscles through an individualized exercise program.

OSTEOPOROSIS
Keeping the bones strong as you age, especially after menopause, is a challenge many women face. An excessive decline in bone mass is called osteoporosis, and it is a leading health care concern for women. A physical therapy program can help improve your posture and strength, prevent falls, and decrease your risk for fractures.

A physical therapist that specializes in women’s health treating pelvic floor dysfunction can help as well.

older_woman

PELVIC FLOOR DYSFUNCTION 
Exhibits Several Symptoms: 

Urinary Incontinence
Fecal Incontinence
Constipation
Diarrhea
Pelvic Floor Pain

PREGNANCY RELATED BACK PAIN
Many women experience low back pain during pregnancy. This is due to several factors such as:

Hormonal Changes – this causes increased looseness of the pelvic ligaments to prepare your body for birthing your baby.
Increased Weight Gain – This places increased stress on all the joints of the body. Increased breast weight can overload
the neck and upper back.
Postural Changes – Body weight shifts forward as the baby grows and this increases the arch in the lower back. Stomach
muscles and the lower pelvic muscles become weaker which decreases support for the lower back.
Altered Movement Patterns – Due to your changing body, women often begin to move in different patterns that can increase stress to the low back or pelvic joints.

This information was written by Advance Rehabilitation Physical Therapy, an outpatient physical therapy group with 24 locations in Georgia and Florida. Advance Rehabilitation is a physical therapy practice that focuses on providing the highest quality rehabilitation services. We specialize in physical therapy, sports medicine, industrial rehabilitation and athletic training. Our staff includes highly-trained professionals that serve as a bridge between injury and recovery to help patients get back to pre-injury status as quickly as possible. For more information click here.

bladder control during pregnancy

Bladder Control During Pregnancy

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Aside from a growing belly, you may notice other changes in your body now that you are pregnant. One thing you may notice is the loss of urine when you are not trying to urinate. Loss of bladder control, also called incontinence, is common during pregnancy and after childbirth. Needing to run to the bathroom often or leaking urine can make you feel embarrassed. Do not feel shy about asking for physical therapy for incontinence. They can help you understand and manage bladder control, and make sure there are not other conditions causing your incontinence. Here is some information to help you learn more.

HOW DOES THE BLADDER WORK?
Urine is stored in your bladder, which is an organ located in the pelvis. The muscles of the pelvis help keep your bladder in place. When you urinate, urine travels from your bladder and out of your body through a tube called the urethra. Ring-like muscles (sphincter muscles) keep the urethra closed so urine does not pass until you are ready to urinate. Muscles at the end of the urethra (sphincter muscles) and in the pelvic floor also help to hold back urine.

HOW CAN BEING PREGNANT CAUSE BLADDER CONTROL PROBLEMS?
The weight of a baby in your belly and the act of giving birth will put pressure on your bladder and may cause your pelvic muscles to stretch and weaken. This causes your bladder to sag, and your urethra to stretch. Nerves can also be damaged. It is this damage to muscles and nerves that can cause bladder control problems to persist.

pregnant woman

HOW CAN I CONTROL MY BLADDER?
The good news is that incontinence may go away once your pelvic muscles heal, usually 6 weeks or so after giving birth. But you can take steps after childbirth to minimize bladder control problems by doing exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Kegel exercises are one type of pelvic floor muscle exercise.

Kegel exercises do not require equipment and can be done anywhere—while sitting at your desk, standing in line at the bank, or even lying down in bed. They are done by squeezing your sphincter muscles in the same way you would when stopping urine flow. After 6-8 weeks of doing the exercises, you may find that you have fewer leaks.

Talk to your doctor to learn more about how to correctly do Kegel exercises. Following pregnancy, if Kegel exercises do not control the incontinence, your doctor may discuss other treatments or refer you to a specialist who can help.

Here are some general steps for doing Kegel exercises from the American Pregnancy Association:

• Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine. Do not squeeze the muscles in your belly, legs, or buttocks.
• Hold for 5-10 seconds, then relax.
• Repeat 10-20 times.
• Try to do at least 3 sets per day.

If incontinence is still bothersome, talk to your doctor about other options, such as wearing absorbent pads or briefs. With support from your healthcare team, you will be able to manage incontinence, as well as other bodily changes that come with pregnancy.

by Marjorie Montemayor-Quellenberg, MA

RESOURCES:
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
http://www.acog.org

Office on Women’s Health
http://www.womenshealth.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Women’s Health Matters
http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca

REFERENCES:
Kegel exercises. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/kegel-exercises. Updated Aug. 2015. Accessed Feb. 10, 2016.

Treatments of common complaints in pregnant women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 1, 2016. Accessed February 10, 2016.

Urinary incontinence fact sheet. Office on Women’s Health website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/urinary-incontinence.html. Updated July 16, 2012. Accessed February 10, 2016.

Urinary incontinence in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 9, 2015. Accessed February 10, 2016.

What I need to know about bladder control for women. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/urinary-incontinence-women/Pages/ez.aspx. Updated June 2012. Accessed February 10, 2016.

3/5/2013 DynaMed’s Systematic Literature Surveillance: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Boyle R, Hay-Smith EJ, Cody JD, et al. Pelvic floor muscle training for prevention and treatment of urinary and faecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;10:CD007471.

Last reviewed February 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 2/10/2016

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.