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physical therapy for urinary incontinence
Image Unsplash @Jasmin Sessler

Yes, Physical Therapy for Urinary Incontinence is a Thing

Urinary Incontinence Under the Radar: Part 1

November is Bladder Health Awareness month, and Femina PT would like to shine light on something that tends to go understated, unaddressed, brushed off as “normal”: urinary incontinence. This blog series focuses on the various effects that urinary incontinence (or UI) leaves on an individual’s life, and how conservative physical therapy treatment can help combat them. Lucky for you, reader, we love to talk about it.

The story goes like this - urinary incontinence is thought to be something expected with getting older, or something that occurs during pregnancy or as a result of delivery. Because of the embarrassment and shame that surrounds such issues, patients often don’t share these problems with their provider. Or worse, if they do share, they may be dismissed as their symptoms being a normal consequence of their stage of life. There is also a lack of awareness for conservative treatments such as pelvic floor physical therapy for these issues. Patients may fear surgery, medication, routine visits, and avoid talking about it all together. However, pelvic floor physical therapy for urinary incontinence can save patients time, money, and psychological distress. The numbers speak for themselves. Up to 45% of adults with bladder control problems fail to seek care.

There are also high correlations with other health conditions, where urinary incontinence is lurking in the background. 78% of women reporting to a physical therapy clinic with chief complaints of low back pain also had urinary incontinence. One study found that older women are less likely to report urinary incontinence symptoms to a provider, and the elderly are the most at risk for the negative sequelae that typically follows. Another study found that providers do not commonly ask elderly patients about urinary incontinence, possibly due to the many pressing comorbidities physicians treat in addition to this. Yet, this continues to be a common problem for many people. When left untreated, the long term effects add up to big problems along the way.

Hot take: Urinary incontinence is not an expected part of aging!

Let’s set the record straight from the start. Urinary incontinence is not a natural part of aging and you do not have to live with it in privacy and isolation. Common does not equal normal. It’s time to leave this old way of thinking behind, and be proactive about maintaining bladder health throughout our entire healthspan, not just as we age to avoid the expensive and complex health care timeline that many face. This is an issue for many of us and it is time we start talking about it.

This should be made a priority by the health care system, the patients and patients' families that deal with it. There is a clear financial burden on the patient, and on the health care system. Costs of medical treatment, medication, complications such as infection, routine care, diagnosis and evaluations and absorbent pads, etc. add up to an impressive annual cost of an estimated $16.3 billion dollars. Those are some fancy adult diapers.

Research finds that urinary incontinence is a major reason why individuals get transferred to a skilled nursing facility. This condition puts a considerable burden on caregivers, and many cannot provide the full care for their husband, wife, parent or other family member. Unfortunately, merely being in a nursing home holds a host of risk factors that contribute to increased morbidity and mortality in these populations. There is a significant positive association between caregiver burden and incontinent patients, often times the “last straw” before admission into a nursing home. Although nursing homes provide quality care to the geriatric population, it is expensive, isolating, and poses the risk of delirium, falls, pressure ulcers, and abuse.

These problems are devastating, and so are the secondary effects of urinary incontinence. We’ll go into details on that in next week’s post that continues this discussion of physical therapy for urinary incontinence. Join us by signing up for our newsletter so you won't miss Part 2!

If you can’t wait to meet us in the meantime, just reach out and we’d love to get you scheduled with one of our doctors.

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What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by Rosanna R., age 35

Heather has affected my life in the MOST POSITIVE way and I am forever grateful. My husband refers to her as the "sex doctor" so you can only imagine how happy he is with my therapy outcome.

After the birth of my son I suffered from "Vaginismus", however, at the time I just thought I was broken. My "broken vagina" affected me physically but it was an emotional struggle as well. Many women in my life also suffered with pain from sex after their babies were born so I knew I wasn't alone. They told me they "just got used to it" but I couldn't see myself living that way.

Sex wasn't just painful, it was literally impossible - IT DIDNT FIT!

Read more: Testimonial by Rosanna R.,...

Testimonial by A.B.

Before I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat I was living in a nightmare. I had been married to my husband for three years and I was suffering from Vaginismus. That all changed when I visited my OBGYN and she said she knew of someone with a great success rate. To be honest I was hesitant at first because my first doctor had already told me that all I needed to do was order dilators from the internet and I should overcome my problem. She was wrong because I had followed the book on how to use the dilators with absolutely no advancements in my condition. However, that all changed when I went in for my first visit and Heather took the time to explain my condition and how we were going to work together to overcome it.

I remember leaving her office with a glimmer of hope that I could live a normal life. As my sessions continued I began to see immediate results. With only four sessions and a strict dedication to my home programs I was cured of Vaginismus. In the beginning of this process I was made aware that my health insurance company might not cover the costs, which was disappointing but today I can say one hundred percent that it was the best money I ever spent. Now thanks to Heather I am finally enjoying my life to the fullest with my husband. Thank you Heather, I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate all that you have done for me. I will never forget it. Those who are suffering from these types of conditions don’t be afraid because she makes you feel so comfortable and the end result is worth it. Good luck to you all and I hope you experience the success I have.
-- A.B.

Testimonial by Carolina J.

I had tried Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy before (with another PT) and I had a really bad (painful) experience. A friend of mine and fellow patient, told me about Heather, Laureen and Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) and I decided to try again. I am so happy I did! Femina PT have, literally, changed my life. I was able to do again things I couldn't do for over 10 years!! Their bedside manners are impeccable, their knowledge and understanding make me feel comfortable to recommend this place to anyone in pain. Specially if you have Endometriosis. 100% recommended!!

-- Carolina J., 12/28/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Fritzette H.

I went to Heather after the birth of my third child. It was lucky, really, that I was referred to her, because my doctor had referred me to a surgeon for a possible hysterectomy or pelvic wall rebuild. Thankfully, I went to Heather before undergoing either surgery, she was able to fix the problem. She has studied extensively in women's health--even written a book about it--and was able to diagnose my problem, suggest a course of treatment (6 weeks), and then follow through with said treatment. By the end, as she said, I was as good as gold. Boy, was it worth it! Though uncomfortable to talk about, much less write about, it is worth getting the word out there. If you have painful intercourse, especially after birth or other trauma, the treatment may be as simple as Physical Therapy (with Heather, of course). I highly recommend her.

-- Fritzette H., 3/24/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Fritzette H.

I went to Heather after the birth of my third child. It was lucky, really, that I was referred to her, because my doctor had referred me to a surgeon for a possible hysterectomy or pelvic wall rebuild. Thankfully, I went to Heather before undergoing either surgery, she was able to fix the problem. She has studied extensively in women's health--even written a book about it--and was able to diagnose my problem, suggest a course of treatment (6 weeks), and then follow through with said treatment. By the end, as she said, I was as good as gold. Boy, was it worth it! Though uncomfortable to talk about, much less write about, it is worth getting the word out there. If you have painful intercourse, especially after birth or other trauma, the treatment may be as simple as Physical Therapy (with Heather, of course). I highly recommend her.

-- Fritzette H., 3/24/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by P.M.

I was hopeful but frankly skeptical when the doctor treating me for Interstitial Cystitis recommended that I go to Heather for physical therapy. Medication and diet helped control my IC symptoms, but I had never heard of physical therapy being used to treat IC. The education and treatment I received from Heather was a revelation. She explained that the pain I experienced with IC had helped create a cycle of muscle guarding which affected the entire pelvic area. I had no idea of the amount of tension being held there. No wonder my husband and I had not been able to have sexual intercourse for years!

Read more: Testimonial by P.M.

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