Physical Therapy for Overactive Bladder – Information, Exercises, and More
Having an overactive bladder is no joke!
Not only do you feel like you spend your day in the bathroom, but sometimes the urge to go is so strong, you wonder if you’ll make it in time. Add to that the occasional leaking and the numerous visits to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and you’re left frustrated, exhausted, and discouraged.
You may think physical therapy is only for major body parts, like your arms and legs. But many have found physical therapy helpful when dealing with an overactive bladder.
This guide will discuss the causes and symptoms of overactive bladder and how physical therapy can help.
What Is Overactive Bladder?
Also referred to as OAB, overactive bladder is the condition associated with the sudden urge to urinate.
You may feel like you need to urinate often during the day and night, and the urge to go may be difficult to control. Urgency incontinence (leaking of urine) may also be associated with an overactive bladder.
Over 33 million Americans suffer from an overactive bladder, including 30% of men and 40% of women.
What Causes Overactive Bladder?
Overactive bladder is caused when the detrusor muscle doesn’t function properly. When working correctly, this muscle allows the bladder to contract to release urine or relax to hold urine in.
Let’s look at a few conditions that may cause the bladder to not function optimally.
Weak Pelvic Muscles
Pregnancy and childbirth can cause muscle weakening and stretching and can lead to a sagging bladder.
Additionally, any type of trauma to the abdomen or pelvic region, whether from an accident or surgery, can weaken the detrusor muscle, leading to an overactive bladder.
When nerves are damaged, the signals from the brain to the bladder can get crossed, resulting in the bladder emptying at inopportune times.
Nerve damage that affects the bladder may be caused by:
- Pelvic or back surgery
- Herniated disc
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and conditions like bladder stones can irritate the bladder, signaling involuntary contractions of the bladder without warning.
Overactive Bladder Symptoms
Overactive bladder symptoms are obvious and often inconvenient. Frequent trips to the bathroom and involuntary leaking are some of the most common symptoms.
Frequency and Urgency of Urination
People who suffer from overactive bladder feel the need to go to the restroom very often. They may also feel an urgent need to urinate, leaving a limited amount of time to make it to the bathroom.
Because of weakening muscles and the inability to hold urine in until getting to the restroom, many people with overactive bladder also deal with incontinence. Also known as urge incontinence, this is when leakage or involuntary urination happens when feeling the urge to empty the bladder.
Nocturia is the urge to urinate two or more times at night.
Overactive Bladder Treatment
Various behavioral treatments are available for patients with overactive bladder and are often the best place to start before resorting to medications or more invasive procedures.
Some behavior treatments to consider include:
- Bladder training
- Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises)
- Vaginal weight training
- Diet monitoring
- Adjusting fluid intake
Medications called anticholinergics that reduce bladder urges may be successful in treating overactive bladder.
Examples of these medications include:
- Oxybutynin (Ditropan)
- Oxybutynin skin patch (Oxytrol)
- Solifenacin (Vesicare)
- Trospium (Sanctura)
- Tolterodine (Detrol)
Several types of nerve stimulation include:
- Sacral nerve stimulation – A small device is implanted under the skin, which sends impulses to the sacral nerve. These stimulations can help with bladder control and leakage.
- Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation – This treatment involves an outpatient procedure where impulses are sent to a branch of nerves in the ankle to help with bladder control. Treatment includes twelve weekly sessions and maintenance therapy.
- Botox injections – Botox injections into the bladder muscle have been an effective treatment for patients who have not had good results from other treatments. The Botox wears off after a while, and treatments need to be repeated about every six months.
Overactive Bladder Physical Therapy – Will PT Help?
Yes! Physical therapy is available, and it can help patients dealing with overactive bladder.
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a popular method of therapy aimed at helping the patient engage the pelvic floor muscles.
Best Overactive Bladder Exercises
Kegel exercises help strengthen the muscles under the bladder. Kegels involve tightening and releasing the pelvic floor muscles.
Abdominal exercises can help strengthen muscles around the bladder. For example, pelvic ball squeezing is an exercise that involves holding a ball between the thighs and squeezing to build abdominal and inner thigh muscles.
Squats and glute bridges are effective exercises to help activate the bladder muscles.
How In Motion O.C. Can Help With Overactive Bladder
An overactive bladder can be a troublesome and wearying condition which keeps you on the sidelines and out of the action. It doesn’t have to be that way.
In Motion O.C. can help.
As the #1 Physical Therapist in the country on Yelp, we’ve helped dozens of patients dealing with the same overactive bladder issues that you’re experiencing.
Our team of experienced physical therapists and trainers is equipped with the expertise to get you on the road to full health. We treat each patient individually to develop a treatment plan perfectly suited to your needs and goals.
Give us a call today and learn how to find relief from overactive bladder symptoms.
The content in this blog should not be used in place of direct medical advice/treatment and is solely for informational purposes.