Do you pee an excessive number of times per day?
Do you avoid road trips because of needing to make frequent stops?
Do you plan your day around access to restrooms?
Do you often feel the need to urinate, but when you sit down, not much or nothing at all comes out?
Do you sometimes leak when a strong urge comes on and you don’t quite make it to the bathroom?
You may have what’s termed as urge incontinence.
Using the bathroom to urinate frequently, needing to urinate in the middle of the night, and/or leaking urine due to a strong and sudden need to urinate are all characteristics of urge incontinence. So even though “incontinence” is in the name, you do not need to be someone who leaks frequently to have urge incontinence. Many people fall more under the category of feeling the urge to urinate frequently even when their bladder is largely empty.
Urge occurs when a signal from the bladder tells the brain that the bladder is filling or full, and the brain sends a signal to the detrusor muscle which sits above the bladder. A spasm of the detrusor muscle would be a feeling of strong urge like “Oh my goodness, my body is telling me I have to pee right now!” (Read more about how your pelvic floor muscles help you pee here).
Normal function would have someone emptying their bladder around every 3-4 hours. They will likely feel a first feeling of urge when the bladder is about 25-50% full, and then a 2nd urge when the bladder is 75% full, and this feeling will continue to intensify as the bladder keeps filling until they void.
So what can increase someone’s urge and lead to urge incontinence?
Some factors involved in causing urge incontinence can be:
- Tension in the abdomen putting pressure on the bladder
- Bladder infection or irritants (caffeine, spicy food, acidic fruits etc.) that upset the bladder tissue
- When “just-in-case” peeing becomes the norm and trains the brain to signal urge more frequently
As urge incontinence (like many pelvic health issues) has both musculoskeletal and neurological components, physical therapy to get rid of urge incontinence must involve both treating the muscles and re-training the brain (as well as sometimes calming the bladder tissue through supplements if it has become irritated by certain foods, drinks, or the acid level in urine).
A pelvic health specialist who knows their stuff (like the staff at OrthoPelvic Physical Therapy) will address the mind and body holistically so that they can fully solve their patients’ urge incontinence.
We ask that our patients with urge incontinence keep a bladder log each week so we can see how much they are drinking and how often they are using the restroom. Many patients with urge incontinence tend to under-hydrate themselves in order to lessen trips to the bathroom, but this under-hydration increases the urine’s acidity, irritating the bladder tissue, and actually causing the patients more urge and discomfort.
If you deal with urge incontinence, try to remember that liquids are not the enemy! And though we will evaluate what you are drinking and potentially make changes, your body needs water, and we promise that drinking a healthy amount will not add to your urge; it will, in fact, decrease it.
A good rule of thumb for water intake is to drink half your body weight in pounds converted to ounces, so if you weigh 150 lbs, you should aim to drink 75 oz of water a day. If you happen to find yourself drinking too much water and always feeling thirsty, try adding a sprinkle of sea salt (not enough to taste) to your water to increase mineral absorption.
As is the case with most all goals we make in life, we make progress towards stopping urge incontinence incrementally. We aim to increase water intake bit by bit each week while also aiming to lengthen the time between bathroom visits.
During our time in the clinic together, we approach urge incontinence as we approach all issues, with OrthoPelvic’s proven LSR Method.
If you’re unfamiliar, OrthoPelvic’s LSR method works in three phases: Lengthen, Strengthen, and Return.
Lengthen: We have to lengthen the tissue to allow it to relax and incorporate breath. Adding length and mobility to the muscles sets you up for long-term success (visits 1-4).
Strengthen: We have to connect the mind to the muscle and re-educate the muscle to fire the correct way (visits 5-8).
Return: We look at functional movements and return you back to your preferred activities without any difficulty. The Return Phase allows you to not only be pain-free/have symptoms go away for a short time but to have pain stay away so you don’t ever have to experience this again! (visits 9-12).
So what do you think?
Are you ready to get rid of urge incontinence and make sure it doesn’t come back?
Or maybe you don’t struggle with urge incontinence, but what you’ve read here reminds you of a friend or family member who could use help.
If anything I’ve said resonates with you, book a FREE 10-minute consult call today. You CAN get relief and you CAN get better. Give us a call today ✨
Be empowered in education,
OrthoPelvic Physical Therapy