Some health topics are downright uncomfortable. How often have we been experiencing an issue we hope will just go away on its own to spare us the agony of discussing it out loud? One of these oft-avoided topics is the topic of incontinence, which while a subject of some embarrassment, actually affects lots of people – almost 25 million nationwide, in fact. Pelvic dysfunction can be the root cause of incontinence and pelvic pain, which can directly impact a person’s quality of life. If you can muster the courage to discuss the issues you’re experiencing with a professional, however, help is available, and it’s possible to overcome these problems and return to living a normal life.
Blount Memorial Total Rehabilitation physical therapist and certified pelvic rehabilitation practitioner Candace Jarrett says education is key. “Since many instances of pelvic dysfunction go undiagnosed, we ask certain patients some important questions,” she said. “These can include everything from questions about how frequently they feel the need to urinate throughout the day, to whether they’ve experienced any loss of bladder control or if they frequently have pelvic pain while sitting. The patient helps me by detailing the problems they’re experiencing, so that I can help them understand the anatomical and physiological situations that are occurring and help them better understand and control the problem,” she explained. “These are issues that can directly affect your daily lifestyle, from your social activities to your intimate relationships. Sometimes, simply knowing that what you’re feeling is justified and is not being exaggerated is a huge mental and emotional relief,” she added.
While pelvic dysfunction often is associated with women, Jarrett says it can affect men, as well. “One in seven women between the ages of 18 and 50 have experienced pelvic pain, with more than 60 percent of those experiences occurring with no previous diagnosis of pelvic dysfunction. Pelvic dysfunction risk is higher for women between ages 40 and 80, and also is higher for women who have had a higher number of pregnancies,” she explained. “But, pelvic dysfunction is not only a problem for women. Men also are directly affected, particularly if they’re suffering from prostate cancer or prostatitis,” she added.
Jarrett also says not every tactic works for every person. “Sometimes, people attempt to resolve their problems on their own,” she said. “Kegel exercises, or the repeated contracting of pelvic muscles associated with urination, generally are used to strengthen these muscles to help control incontinence. But, Kegel exercises aren’t always helpful, and may result in no change whatsoever. They actually can even make matters worse,” she explained. “Muscle strengthening isn’t appropriate for every patient because some patients need relaxation to eliminate their symptoms, not strengthening,” she added.
If you’re experiencing issues related to bladder control, bowel control, constipation, lack of urination, or general pain around your pelvic area, Jarrett says you should seek treatment. “A good percentage of my urinary incontinence patients show a positive response within the first one or two weeks of their initial visit,” she said. “One of the most important parts of treatment, though, is getting patients involved with their own care. They need to be faithful in doing what is asked of them, and be compliant with their follow-up appointments. Sometimes, patients get such good results so quickly that they’re inclined to not let their treatments run the full course. Ultimately, I end up seeing a lot of those patients battling the same issues again six months later,” she explained. “The main benefit of treatment is that return to normalcy. No more having to know where all the bathrooms are on the way to the store, being in pain behind closed doors or suffering in silence,” she added.
For more information about pelvic pain and treatments, contact Blount Memorial Total Rehabilitation at 865-980-5044 or click here.