How Manual Physical Therapy Helps Urinary Incontinence in Women

Heather Whiting DPT, CSCS

Heather Whiting DPT, CSCS

with  Heather Whiting, PT, DPT, CSCS, CFMT  

Urinary incontinence is when there is an undesired leakage of urine. It can be anywhere from a couple of drops of urine to close to a regular flow.  There are different types of urinary incontinence. You can have stress incontinence, urge incontinence and overflow incontinence to name a few.

Stress incontinence occurs when there is an increase in abdominal pressure such as lifting a heavy object, sneezing, coughing or during exercise.

Urge incontinence occurs when a person hears running water, is drinking water or during sleep. It is caused by a spastic bladder and the patient has very little control over their bladder and often urinates 7 or more times a day.

Overflow incontinence is when the person cannot fully empty their bladder and it causes over activation of the bladder nerves resulting in an increase in urinary frequency.

What causes Urinary Incontinence in women?    There are many different causes for urinary incontinence in women. It can occur during and after pregnancy, in women with strong core muscles, women with low back pain and often occurs as women age. If you find yourself with urinary incontinence after a trauma, you should seek immediate medical attention to rule out any underlying neurological dysfunctions, such as cauda equina syndrome. Often it is a result of weakening pelvic floor muscles and structural dysfunctions such as joint alignment problems or scar tissue adhered to the bladder.

How can Physical Therapy help me with my Urinary Incontinence?  A Certified Functional Manual Physical Therapist™ can help with urinary incontinence in several different ways. Often, there is a structural dysfunction that has changed the pelvic floor muscles ability to contract effectively. This can be misalignment of the coccyx, sacrum, pubic ramus, ileums and/or scar tissue within the abdominal contents. Manual Physical Therapists can assess and treat these dysfunctions and follow it up with appropriate strengthening exercises.  The exercises provided are targeted to activate the deep core muscles that are usually ignored with traditional abdominal exercises. The Certified Functional Manual Physical Therapists™ at Elite Health Services are continually assessing and correcting your posture to ensure you have the most efficient posture to aid in your healing process.

What would a course of Physical Therapy treatment for urinary incontinence involve?  Every course of treatment begins with an evaluation. This is the time we discuss your past medical history, current symptoms and your goals for treatment. Your Elite Health Services Certified Functional Manual Physical Therapist™ will look at your posture, assess your pelvic structures and assess your strength. From this information, a customized plan of treatment will be formulated. Manual Physical Therapy is an active relationship between the therapist and the patient. The Manual Physical Therapist will clear up any structural dysfunctions, start the strengthening process and educate you on proper posture. It is the patients responsibility to make the necessary postural adjustments in their everyday life and to perform the home exercise program as prescribed by their Physical Therapist.

What can I do at home to help improve my condition?  Your Manual Physical Therapist will give you specific things to focus on in your day to day activities. You will need to be aware of proper posturing and avoid certain motions, identified by your therapist, which can be counterproductive to the course of treatment. In addition, your Physical Therapist will also provide an appropriately prescribed home exercise program for you to carry out at home.

Elite Health Services, located in Old Greenwich, CT is a world-class provider of certified functional manual physical therapy, personal fitness, golf & triathlon performance training, massage therapy and wellness related services.  Our team of highly skilled and dedicated professionals take a no-excuses approach to providing exceptional care, and delivering exceptional results. To learn more visit

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