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The excuses we give for not treating our incontinence and tips for overcoming them. For many of us, leaking (aka peeing our pants unintentionally) when we sneeze, cough, giggle, jump, or exercise (pretty much just enjoying and living our lives) has become an acceptable norm. It’s part of being a woman and a mother, right? When lucky enough to feel the possibility of a leak, we take the preemptive step of crossing our legs, but at less fortunate moments, we quietly hope the leaking aftermath can be managed with the absorption power of a bundle of stiff toilet paper from the nearest public bathroom.
It is important that your primary healthcare provider (physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant) know about everything that has to do with your body, your health and how you feel.
What is Urinary Incontinence? Urinary incontinence refers to accidental leakage of urine. There are several types of urinary incontinence including stress, urge, mixed and functional incontinence.
What is Pelvic Pain? Pelvic pain is described as an aching or burning pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis, or perineum. The cause of pelvic pain can be complex, and the symptoms often fluctuate, making a diagnosis difficult. Both men and women can be affected, however women are most often impacted. If left untreated, pelvic pain can persist and negatively impact daily function and quality of life.
What is Osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by decreased density and structure of bones, causing bones to become weak or brittle. These changes increase a person’s risk for breaking a bone. The lower one’s bone density, the greater the risk of fracture. Osteoporosis is a silent disease, meaning people are often unaware of these bony changes until after they break a bone. The spine, hip and wrist are the most common bones to fracture. These fractures impact a person’s mobility, functional independence, reduce height, and cause pain.
What musculoskeletal issues are common during pregnancy and after childbirth? Pregnancy and postpartum are times of great change for a woman - physically, emotionally, and hormonally. As the fetus grows during pregnancy, the musculoskeletal system is challenged by altered posture, muscle imbalances, and changes in spinal mobility. These changes may cause pain, difficulty with balance, and reduced activity. In the postpartum phase, physical changes experienced during pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for a newborn may result in joint, nerve and/or muscle strain.
What is a “Kegel” exercise? A Kegel is a contraction of your pelvic floor muscles and is more accurately called a “pelvic floor muscle contraction” or “pelvic muscle exercise”. Performing a pelvic floor muscle contraction (Kegel) can assist with bladder and bowel control, since these muscles support the bladder, bowels, uterus, and rectum.
A Physical Therapist (PT) with specialized training in pelvic floor muscle dysfunction will perform a detailed evaluation in a private setting during your first visit. This will include understanding your general medical history, history related to your current condition, stress level, preferred activities and lifestyle, and your desired goals. You’ll be asked questions about your eating, drinking, and bathroom habits.
Choosing to participate in physical therapy, or specialized (pelvic, obstetric, lymphedema) physical therapy, can seem like a daunting experience. Discussing personal and sensitive topics such as pelvic pain, along with bladder, bowel, and/or sexual concerns, can be difficult. Establishing open lines of communication with your physical therapist is essential for successful treatment. Knowing the right questions to ask can help you gain trust and determine if a particular therapist is a good fit for you. Consider asking the following questions to help make an informed decision when deciding on a healthcare provider.
What is Lymphedema? Lymphedema is a condition in which the lymphatic system of the body is unable to properly transport lymph fluid from the tissue spaces back to the blood stream, leading to swelling in the limbs, trunk, genitalia, head, neck, or anywhere there is lymphatic tissue. Protein-rich lymphatic fluid is different than typical edema or swelling and can only be drained by the lymphatic vessels. Because lymphedema is often mechanical in nature (meaning the structure of the lymphatic system is compromised), lymphedema is a life-long condition. Finding and addressing lymphedema early helps ensure faster, more successful outcomes. However, individuals with chronic lymphedema can also benefit significantly from physical therapy interventions. There is no cure, but the condition can be managed successfully.