Jenny Hastreiter, P.T.
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No one wants to be incontinent. But, it can and does happen, even to healthy individuals. Urinary incontinence — the loss of bladder control — can lead to anxiety, social isolation, loss of independence and increased risk of falls. Fortunately, help is available.
Take a recent patient of mine for an example of how incontinence can begin:
“As I set off to compete in my fifth half marathon, I felt that I had adequately trained and prepared for the race. What I hadn’t anticipated was having a cold and cough for about a week before the race. Although I had recovered from the coughing and sneezing, my pelvic floor had not recovered from the acute stress the coughing and sneezing placed on it. About eight miles into the 13.1-mile race, I felt a leak occur and then another and then another, as I ran on. I had heard about other people having this problem before, but no one ever told me there was anything I could do about it.”
After a physician referral, the patient met with me. I’m a physical therapist who provides pelvic health physical therapy treatment at Mayo Clinic Health System – Northland. After a thorough evaluation and consultation, I came up with a program that would help the patient to prevent further incontinence issues.
Here is what you need to know about urinary incontinence:
- It typically takes women six and one-half years to report problems with incontinence to their providers.
- It is not a normal part of growing older and having children. Anyone can develop incontinence, but it is not a normal part of aging.
- Don’t be embarrassed to seek treatment — you are not alone.
- Your symptoms can vary. Leaking can occur because of urgency, coughing, sneezing, lifting, jumping, running and other activities.
- Physical therapy can help you though use of biofeedback, exercises (including Kegels), manual therapy and lifestyle modifications.
- Doing Kegel exercises incorrectly can make things worse. Please see a specially trained therapist to receive proper instruction.
- Physical therapy can provide an average of 80 percent improvement in symptoms.
- Treatment can help men and women ages 6 to 106. It is never too late.