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grip strength and urinary incontinence | Image Licensed by Securecat under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0
Grip Strength & Incontinence | Image Licensed by Securecat under Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0

November is Bladder Health Awareness Month.

At Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy, we take pride in understanding and applying how your whole body affects your pelvic health. In this article, we explore the links between grip strength and urinary incontinence.

A study conducted at the Jeju National University measured grip strength in patients and found statistically significant differences in patients with incontinence, overactive bladder and nocturia4. They found these patients had a weaker grip strength (less than 18kg) using a hand dynamometer. 

Types & Frequency of Incontinence

In the United States, 51% of women live with urinary incontinence1. Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine which can be mild (a few drops) to a complete inability to control the bladder. There can be different triggers that may

cause the leakage such as a sneeze/laugh (stress incontinence) or when there is a sudden and strong urge to urinate (urge incontinence). 16.9% of men and women have a diagnosis of overactive bladder2. Overactive bladder is defined as the frequent and sudden urge to urinate that can be hard to control and could result in incontinence. Nocturia is defined as waking at night with the need to urinate. If you are under 65 years old it is not normal to be awoken from an urge; if over 65 years old it can be normal to wake up one time per night to urinate.  

Grip Strength and Urinary Incontinence

Another study found that women with decreased muscle mass (sarcopenia) have 1.5 times higher rates of stress urinary incontinence3.

The pelvic floor muscles in women support the bladder, bowels, and uterus. These groups of muscles have five functions:

  • support
  • sphincteric
  • sexual
  • stability
  • sump-pump

These studies found that a general decrease in muscle mass is associated with a decrease in the strength and muscle mass of the pelvic floor muscles. Using grip strength can be an effective and quick tool to use to screen patients. This can be especially helpful in the primary care setting.

Many patients report not speaking to their doctor about these symptoms because they are either embarrassed, believe its a normal part or aging/childbirth, think it's not problematic enough or fear having invasive testing4. Using hand strength and a thorough intake could help with earlier diagnosis of these lower urinary tract symptoms. If you think you may be experiencing any of the symptoms linking grip strength and urinary incontinence, please talk to your doctor and/or contact us for an appointment so we can discuss this further. 

 

References

Markland, Alayne D, et al. “Prevalence and Trends of Urinary Incontinence in Adults in the United States, 2001 to 2008.” The Journal of Urology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3197263/#:~:text=Results,women%20and%2013.9%25%20in%20men. 

Milsom I, Abrams P, Cardozo L, Roberts RG, Thüroff J, Wein AJ. How widespread are the symptoms of an overactive bladder and how are they managed? A population-based prevalence study. BJU Int. 2001 Jun. 87(9):760-6. [Medline].

Erdogan T, Bahat G, Kilic C, Kucukdagli P, Oren MM, Erdogan O, et al. The relationship between sarcopenia and urinary incontinence. Eur Geriat Med. 2019;10:923.

Yang, S.-J., Park, J. H., Oh, Y., Kim, H., Kong, M., & Moon, J. (2021). Association of decreased grip strength with lower urinary tract symptoms in women: a cross‐sectional study from Korea. BMC Women’s Health, 21(1). doi:10.1186/s12905-021-01241-4 

What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by J.B.

My husband and I were having problems with painful intercourse. My therapist recommended that I go and get a pelvic floor evaluation from a physical therapist. Having never been treated by a physical therapist, I wondered how this really was going to help me. My husband who is a physician was very supportive and agreed that a PT evaluation would be a great idea. So i made the appointment and was blown away by what I learned. I had no idea that pelvic floor muscles could get tight and have trigger points just like any other muscle in the body. I'm a massage therapist and very familiar with tight muscles, and this new thought really amazed me. Heather's program to help relax and strengthen these muscles made such a difference. I can say that I am 100% pain free during intercourse now. Yippee! Going to the PT appointments and doing the at-home exercises was definitely a discipline, but it's 100% worth it! The rewards are amazing.

-- J.B.

Testimonial by T.H.

I started seeing Heather in October 2014. For more than two years, I had been suffering from painful urinary tract infection type symptoms after my bartholins gland surgery which included constant burning and urinary frequency sensation that led to more and more painful intercourse. I had made multiple visits to internist, obgyn and urologist's offices, went through a range of treatment with UTI and bladder frequency medication that included antibiotics, vesicare, estrogen cream, but nothing worked.

Read more: Testimonial by T.H.

Testimonial by R.H.

No one could tell me why I was having pain during sex--sharp pain, not just uncomfortable, pain. I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat after researching several different options. I had seen a specialist who told me physical therapy would not help and my only option was surgery. I really didn't want to go that route, so when we got a referral, I decided to try it--it can't hurt, I thought. I am so glad I did. She diagnosed the problem right away, which was a relief in itself.

To know why I was having pain eased my mind immensely. And to hear that she could fix it without surgery was another relief. She said she could fix the problem in 6 weeks. I think it was actually 4 for me. She was very methodical, and treated me as an intelligent human being capable of participating in my own recovery. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone. She did not try to prolong my session numbers, she worked hard to accommodate my schedule (and the fact that I had to bring a baby to sessions), and she was completely honest the entire time. It is so hard to find someone with these characteristics, much less a professional who is so good at what she does. She has my highest respect.

-- R.H.

Testimonial by S.B.

As someone who suffered the debilitating physical and emotional effects of vaginismus (as well as a complicated history of back injuries) for more than 15 years, I thought a "normal" life was just a fantasy. Then I found Heather.

Read more: Testimonial by S.B.

Testimonial by Julie T.

Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) has honestly changed my life. Before receiving treatment at Femina, I was going doctor to doctor to try and find the answer to my pelvic pain. It has taken me YEARS to find someone that can help fix this. It wasn't until my gynecologist recommended your clinic that I finally felt relief. My pelvic pain is almost gone, and granted I still have a lot more to work on with Laureen (my PT), my original problem is nearly cured. I am so grateful to her.

What is even better is she gave me practical exercises to do at home that were not tedious and provided instant (and lasting) relief. Although I mainly work with Laureen, my interaction with the owner (Heather) has been great. She is very generous, kind, and committed to her business.

It hurts to know there are women out there suffering who will never know or have the opportunity to work with women like Laureen and Heather because this issue is hardly talked about and this field is so rare. I hope more doctors and physical therapists see the value in this work and can relieve more woman of their pain.

-- Julie T., 12/4/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by S.H., age 24

I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me for the past 19 months. I literally could not have reached my goals without you and your practice. You gave me the courage to keep moving forth with my treatment no matter how afraid and anxious I was. You were always there to answer questions and made this whole process so much easier than I expected it to be.

It's because of you that my marriage is on the right track, that I can get pregnant and that this part of my life is finally over. I really feel that Fusion Wellness is a team of people you can call family and are there to root for you and cheer you on until you reach your goals. There is nothing better than knowing I accomplished this with you guys by my side and as calmly and patiently as I needed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being there and helping me reach my goals.

S.H., age 24

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