Let’s overcome incontinence

Written by Michelle Hall, Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist at LifeCare Cockburn

It may surprise you that approximately one in four Australians, over the age of 15, suffer from bladder leakage, also known as urinary incontinence – that equates to nearly 5 million of us! 

This most commonly occurs with coughing, sneezing or other exertion, which is referred to as stress urinary incontinence. What you may not be aware of is that there is now a wealth of evidence that this common and sometimes embarrassing condition can be effectively treated with pelvic floor muscle training, taught by a qualified Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist. 

More common than you think

There are some misconceptions about urinary incontinence. It is usually seen as a ‘women’s issue’, and while it is more common in females, with a third of women suffering from incontinence, men still make up a large proportion of those affected. Many people also assume that this is only an issue for the elderly, however half of women who report incontinence are aged under 50 years.  

Improve your situation. No referrals needed

Fortunately, incontinence doesn’t have to be a lifelong problem and for the majority of people who experience incontinence, physiotherapy treatment can help manage or cure symptoms. A large study done at the University of South Australia has shown that physiotherapy proved effective for 84% of women who received pelvic floor muscle training and lifestyle advice with a qualified Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist. The 'cure' rate was still approximately 80% after 1 year, which is comparable to, or even better than, the 'cure' rate reported with surgery.

Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapists have extra qualifications in treating issues related to incontinence and other pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Unlike seeing a specialist doctor, seeking help from a specially qualified Physiotherapist does not require a referral. To ensure that you are booked in with an appropriate practitioner, make sure that the receptionist is aware that your appointment is for incontinence or pelvic floor muscle training.

What to expect during your assessment

Your initial consultation will take about 45minutes. To assess your condition your Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist may do a postural and movement assessment and an external pelvic examination. Sometimes an internal examination may be advised to achieve an accurate diagnosis, however if you are not comfortable with this, your physiotherapist can assess your pelvic floor using an external, real-time ultrasound.

Make a change

While common, urinary incontinence is not just a normal part of aging, it can be treated! Get in touch with one of LifeCare’s Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapists for an assessment and management program.

 

References:

Neumann PB, et al (2005) Physiotherapy for female stress urinary incontinence: a multicentre observational study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Volume 45, Issue 3, pages 226–232

Continence Foundation of Australia. https://www.continence.org.au/