Get Tips For Bladder Health

Get Tips For Bladder Health

When it comes to urinary incontinence or overactive bladder (OAB), nobody wants to share their troubles with anybody, let alone their health care provider. That said, millions of Americans suffer from bladder control issues. These issues are frequently tied to poor pelvic floor health or pelvic floor dysfunction.

To help you better understand your condition and what you can do about it, here are answers to some common questions:

What is overactive bladder?

As many as 30 percent of men and 40 percent of women in the U.S. have overactive bladder (OAB). The most common symptom of OAB is a sudden, uncontrollable need to urinate. Sometimes individuals will leak urine (called incontinence) when an urge strikes. Having to go to the bathroom many times during the day and night can be another symptom of OAB.

What is stress urinary incontinence?

More common in women, stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is not the same as OAB. SUI may cause urine leakage during exercise or other physical activities that put pressure on the bladder, or when sneezing, coughing or laughing, and is not usually associated with an urge.

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles forming a sling across the bottom of the pelvis. These muscles and surrounding tissues keep pelvic organs (bladder, uterus or prostate, and rectum) in place so they function properly, and are an important part of your core. Weakening of these muscles can lead to incontinence (urinary and fecal), and abnormal tightening can cause back or pelvic pain, constipation and other symptoms that affect quality of life.

One out of every 5 Americans (of all ages) will experience some type of pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) in his/her lifetime.

How is pelvic floor dysfunction treated?

The good news about PFD? Bladder control issues and other symptoms can be resolved—often without surgery. (Over 75 percent of people have symptom improvement with pelvic physical therapy and biofeedback!)

Treatment options for PFD include:

  • Pelvic physical therapy involves manual techniques for the spine, pelvic muscles or abdomen. Treatments may be performed internally or externally. Your physical therapist may also incorporate biofeedback, guiding you on how to either relax or tighten the pelvic muscles. Using these muscles alone and as part of your core is vital.
  • Because the goal of PFD therapy is to learn to control and relax the pelvic floor, physical therapists also teach exercises that patients can perform at home. The pelvic floor can’t support you by itself, so your therapist will also focus on hip, abdominal and back strengthening.
  • Practicing good self-care, such as avoiding pushing/straining when going to the bathroom and during daily activities like lifting or prolonged standing.
  • Breathing to protect your organs and your pelvic floor. Remember to breathe through strain, as well as while moving, exercising and going to the bathroom.
  • Keeping pressure off your pelvic organs by maintaining good posture and proper lifting techniques, as well as stretching or doing activities to avoid tightening/muscle spasms.
  • • If other options fail to provide desired results, surgical interventions are available to help position the bladder, bowel or uterus after prolonged pelvic floor dysfunction.

While it’s far from easy to talk about “bathroom problems,” relief is possible, so don’t let embarrassment hold you back from living the full and active life you deserve. The first step is visiting your doctor for an evaluation and diagnosis.

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  • Erin Lamb, MSPT

    Erin Lamb, MSPT

    Erin graduated from Grand Valley State University with her masters in Physical Therapy in 2001. In 2011, Erin joined Holland Hospital to expand outpatient therapy services in Holland and has helped develop a robust pelvic health program. She continues to be part of the experienced rehab team and is passionate about pelvic health and her patients. Erin works with and motivates her patients to help them achieve the best possible outcomes and specializes in visceral mobilization, biofeedback techniques and specialized manual therapy for spinal and pelvic conditions.

    Erin is married to Ryan and they have three energetic daughters. She has lived in Holland for 16 years. When she’s not caring for patients, Erin enjoys golf, swimming, skiing and being chauffeur for her children.

    All blogs by Erin Lamb, MSPT