What is stress Incontinence?
Stress incontinence occurs when you are not able to prevent urine from leaking out when the pressure in your abdomen increases with events such as coughing, sneezing, and lifting.
It is caused by a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that keep urine from leaking out) that is contributed to by trauma such as delivering a baby.
Physical Therapists can fix this problem by teaching their patients the following: the function of the pelvic floor muscles, proper bladder habits, exercises specific for the pelvic floor, and through biofeedback and electrical stimulation.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Functions
The pelvic floor has three functions. The pelvic floors main function is to support the surrounding structures and help keep organs such as the uterus, bladder, and rectum inside the body. The second function of the pelvic floor is sphincteric. This helps the tube from which you urinate to open and close when urinating and your rectum to open and close having a bowel movement. The third function of the pelvic floor is sexual. This provides sensation for sexual intercourse.
Proper Bladder Habits
Proper bladder habits include the following: Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day (80 oz.) , Urinate 6-8 times in a 24 hour period, only urinate every 2-5 hours, there should be no nighttime urinating (pay attention to whether or not the urge work you up or something else woke you up and you realized you needed to urinate), each stream should last 8-10 seconds, avoid bladder irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, orange juice, soft drinks, and nicotine.
-exercise the muscles supporting your pelvis by performing Kegel exercises 3 times per day with 3 sets of 20 repetitions each time (if this is difficult at first you can build up to it)
-Stretch tight muscles surrounding the area because they can compensate and contribute to even further weakening of the pelvic floor muscles
Biofeedback and Electrical Stimulation
-Biofeedback is a type of treatment that provides visual feedback on how well you are able to contract your pelvic floor muscles
-Electrical stimulation is a means of using a mild electric current to increase the strength of your pelvic floor muscles that is enhanced when you perform the Kegels during treatment