|Specialty Physical Therapy | WENDY M. FEATHERSTONE, PT|
Incontinence is the accidental or unwanted leakage of urine or fecal matter. Incontinence can develop at any age, but becomes more common as we grow older. Stress Incontinence is leakage caused by increased pressure on the bladder: sneezing, coughing, laughing, jumping, jogging. Urge Incontinence is leakage caused by the pressure/urge to urinate when one is en route to a bathroom, hears water running, or keys turning in a lock. Mixed Incontinence is a combination of stress and urge incontience. Finally, Fecal Incontinence is the leakage of feces due to poor control of rectal muscles.
Fifty percent of women ages 60 and over suffer from urinary incontinence. However, studies show that only about 30 percent of people with incontinence seek treatment. Women may decline to seek treatment due to embarrassment or a belief that nothing can be done. Women may not seek treatment because they feel embarrassed or believe that there is nothing that can be done about it. However treatment is possible and many cases of incontinence can be improved or cured.
Women are more susceptible to urinary incontinence because of physical changes resulting from pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. Childbearing can stretch pelvic muscles or damage the bladder. The decrease in estrogen during menopause can also weaken pelvic and vaginal muscles, increasing the likelihood of incontinence.
Many men do suffer from incontinence, its prevalence increasing with age.
Any disease, condition, or injury (such as diabetes, stroke, or MS) that damages nerves can lead to urination problems. Prostate problems (BPH, prostatectomies, or radiation therapies) can also lead to incontinence.
Vulvodynia literally means 'pain in the vulva.' Vulvodynia describes a symptom, which can have many different causes (infection, inflammation, skin conditions, diseases, neurologic/musculoskeletal disorders). This condition is closely related to a condition called vulvar vestibulitis, where women experience pain around the opening of the vagina. Pain may flare up during intercourse, while sitting, or when wearing tight clothing.
This condition can effect women throughout their lifretime, but it is most common among women in their reproductive years. Many never seek treatment.
Vulvodynia is physical pain, but it can influence your life beyond the physical. Vulvodynia can impose limits on sexual pleasure/experiences, and depression may be more common among women suffering from vulvodynia.
Physical therapists treat vulvodynia using biofeedback, helping patients learn to reduce pain by strengthening and relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor. Biofeedback manufacturers have developed software and sensors specifically for women with vulvodynia. Manual therapy, postural realignment, pelvic floor rehab, core stabilization, vaginal dilators and home exercise programs may also be used to overcome pain.
Pelvic pain is extremely common. Studies suggest that as many as 10 percent of all visits to gynecologists are made by women seeking treatment for pelvic pain (source: womenshealthmatters.ca). Pelvic pain may be caused by another disease or condition, or it may be treated as a condition in its own right.
Physical therapy is increasingly seen as an important treatment method for pelvic pain. Physical therapists can teach patients to strengthen muscles damaged during pregnancy, childbirth, or injury. Strengthening techniques include massage and passive/active exercise to reduce pain. After assessing a patient's condition, the therapist may prescribe exercises to be performed during treatments or at home.
Vaginismus is the involuntary contracting of the pelvic floor or vaginal muscles in response to attempted penetration, resulting from anxiety, previous physial trauma, childbirth, hormones, or surgery. described as an involuntary contraction or tightening of the pelvic floor or vaginal muscles in response to attempted penetration. Penetration or intercourse is painful for many women suffering from Vaginismus and can stimulate pelvic muscles spasms.
Physical therapists can realign the spine, pelvis, sacrum, or coccyc. Other possible treatments include manual therapy, exercise, electrical stimulation, heat therapy, biofeedback, relaxation training, or vaginal dilation
The therapists at Specialty Physical Therapy are trained experts in orthopedics and rehabilitation after injury. Physical therapists will assess strength, fliexibility, stability, posture, balance, and gait in order to diagnose the pain. Manual therapy techniques such as deep tissue massage, trigger-point release, or joint mobilization may be used to speed the healing process. An individualized exercise program will also be prescribed.
After childbirth, many women complain of incontinence, low back/pelvic pain, pain with intercourse, or weak core muscles. Some mothers may sustain tearing or coccyx injuries, or other problems due to birthing position, length of childbirth, trauma/interventions, or pre-existing issues.
Physical therapists can instruct new mothers in proper bending, lifting, and carrying techniques. Therapists can also address issues such as muscle weakness in the core and pelvic floor, or urinary incontinence.
Pregnancy places great demand on a woman's body. Many women experience low back pain and sciatica, which are usually caused by postural changes and sacroiliac dysfunction. Edema or swelling of the arms and legs, carpal tunnel symptoms, neck pain, headaches, incontinence, pelvic pain, and lower extremity pain are also symptoms of pregnancy.
Biofeedback measures specific and quantifiable physical functions and conveys the information to the patient in real-time in order to raise the patient's awareness of these functions and in turn, increase the possibility of conscious control of these functions.
Biofeedback allows users to gain control of seeminly "automatic" physical processes.
Biofeedback electronically measures the strength of your muscle contractions and gives you constant feedback on how exercises are affecting your muscles. It teaches you to control your body’s muscles and their responses.
The biofeedback machine connects to the body with electrodes, which are placed on the skin, and uses sounds or lights to guide your exercise.