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Sun, Oct. 13

Debunking myths about urinary incontinence

Physical therapy can help those who suffer from urinary incontinence spend less time here.

Physical therapy can help those who suffer from urinary incontinence spend less time here.

More than 200 million people live with urinary incontinence, which can have a negative impact on quality of life. Individuals who suffer with this condition may experience bladder leakage, a strong urge to urinate, painful urination, or incomplete emptying of their bladders.

But, according to Jessica Baugh, a physical therapist trained in treating urinary incontinence at Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Physical therapy can provide significant improvement in symptoms caused by urinary incontinence,” Baugh said. “The first line of therapy is pelvic floor muscle training.”

The pelvic floor consists of muscles, ligaments, tissues and nerves that act like a hammock to support the bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum. When the pelvic floor is weak, these areas are unable to function as well as they should.

“A normally functioning pelvic floor can help with core strength and stability to allow for better bladder control,” Baugh said. “This can help prevent as well as relieve the symptoms of urinary incontinence.”

Baugh said there are many myths about urinary incontinence that may discourage women and men from getting the help they need. She supplied these myth-busting facts:

Myth: Urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse are “normal” as we age.

Truth: Any leakage is too much leakage.

Myth: Reducing fluids reduces urinary incontinence.

Truth: Reducing fluids leads to frequent, concentrated urine, which irritates the bladder and causes worsening symptoms of urinary incontinence.

Myth: Surgery is a necessary to treat urinary incontinence.

Truth: Physical therapy can provide significant improvement in symptoms, along with dietary and behavioral changes.

Myth: Delaying going to the bathroom helps strengthen the pelvic floor.

Truth: This can overstretch the bladder, leading to a flaccid bladder that no longer functions properly.

“For anyone who lives with urinary incontinence, I recommend seeking medical treatment,” Baugh said. “Physical therapy truly can provide a life-changing difference for many.”

Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital is a 44-bed, free-standing rehabilitation hospital that provides intensive physical rehabilitation services to patients recovering from strokes, brain and spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries, and other disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic conditions. For more information, visit MVRRH.ernesthealth.com.

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