Urinary incontinence can be embarrassing, but it’s a common condition experienced by millions of Americans. Approximately one third of adult women experience some form of pelvic floor dysfunction, a condition which is often linked with urinary incontinence. At Capitol Physical Therapy, we offer pelvic floor physical therapy in Washington DC. Our licensed Washington DC physical therapists can help you improve pelvic floor issues and address related urinary incontinence. But despite being less common, men can also experience urinary incontinence due to pelvic floor issues – so men’s health physical therapy can help as well. Today, we’d like to dive deeper into the link between urinary incontinence and pelvic floor issues. Let’s get started. What Is Your Pelvic Floor? Your pelvic floor is a group of several muscles that work to support your bowel and bladder. Your pelvic floor muscles coordinate contracting and relaxing to allow for control of your bowel and bladder. You can think of your pelvic floor as a type of supportive sling for these organs. In addition to supporting your rectum and bladder, your pelvic floor also: \tControls your sphincter muscles (ring shaped muscles that help control the muscles around your anus) \tSupports your lower back \tStabilizes your pelvic bones \tHelps with sexual function What Is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction? Pelvic floor dysfunction occurs when there is either too much or too little tension on your pelvic floor muscles. When this occurs, your pelvic floor muscles can’t properly contract and release and may subsequently contribute to a variety of complications, such as: \tUrinary incontinence \tConstipation \tPain during sexual intercourse, particularly during penetrative sex \tPain in the lower back, pelvic region, genitals, or rectum What Is Urinary Incontinence One of the most common symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction is urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence refers to a loss of bladder control and subsequent urine leakage. If you’ve been experiencing urinary incontinence, you may also struggle starting or holding your urine stream. The symptoms of urinary incontinence can be embarrassing and may lead to things like depression and low self esteem. Urinary incontinence may present as one of several types or a mix of multiple types. The two most common forms of chronic urinary incontinence are stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is especially common postpartum and can happen when you cough, sneeze, or participate in strenuous exercise or activities which engage your abdominal muscles. Comparatively, urge incontinence causes a strong, urgent need to urine which often can’t be held until you reach a toilet. This may feel embarrassing and stressful, but it’s important to remember this is a far more common condition than you might think. In fact, a 2011 study by Markland Et Al found that about half of women would experience urinary incontinence at some point in their lives. So you’re not alone in dealing with this condition, but you’re not alone in treating it – physical therapy can help. But before we get to that, let’s finish our look at how urinary incontinence happens. How Does Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Cause Urinary Incontinence? Urinary incontinence can be caused by issues with your pelvic floor muscles, but the issue depends on the type of incontinence you have. With urge incontinence, it can be caused by weak pelvic floor muscls that can’t constrict enough to control your bladder function. Stress incontinence, on the other hand, can be caused by tightness in your pelvic floor muscles. For your bladder to work correctly, your pelvic floor muscles must properly coordinate contractions to help decrease your urge to urinary and keep your urethra closed. Subsequently, any condition or injury which affects your pelvic floor muscles may lead to urinary incontinence, such as: \tGaining control over your symptoms \tReducing the need for pads, special underwear, and medicines \tReducing your chance of needing surgery to correct the dysfunction How Can Physical Therapy Help? Physical therapy offers a range of therapeutic methods aimed at improving pelvic floor dysfunction and related urinary incontinence. Physical therapy offers a variety of benefits for people living with pelvic floor dysfunction and urinary incontinence, including: \tGaining control over your symptoms \tReducing the need for pads, special underwear, and medicines \tReducing your chance of needing surgery to correct the dysfunction Your physical therapist will work with you to create a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific strengths and limitations. Some of the therapeutic approaches your physical therapist may use include: \tPelvic floor and muscle strengthening exercises \tRelaxation techniques \tBiofeedback Pelvic floor and muscle strengthening and stretching exercises can help support proper bladder function by increasing awareness and movement of your pelvic floor muscles. Biofeedback is another useful therapeutic technique which uses an internal sensor to read your pelvic floor muscle activity. At Capitol Physical Therapy, we use internal tools like dilators which can promote a biofeedback technique. As you can see, there are a variety of options available to help with pelvic floor dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today At Capitol Physical Therapy, we have a special interest in helping people like you improve their pelvic floor dysfunction to overcome urinary incontinence. Are you interested in hearing more about pelvic floor issues, urinary incontinence, and how we can help? Book an appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today, and take your first step toward saying goodbye to urinary incontinence for good.