…a vital tool for urologists and their patients
More and more urologists are referring their patients with bladder symptoms to physical therapists, with excellent results. In physical therapy, patients learn how to properly use their pelvic floor muscles to help retrain their bladder; they learn about foods and drinks that may be contributing to the problem, as well as some simple behavioral strategies to help control their bladder frequency and urgency.
In a specialized pelvic floor physical therapy practice, the patient’s pelvic floor muscles are assessed, using state-of-the-art equipment, enabling the therapist to determine what is contributing to bladder problems. Some patients may need to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles and learn strategies to inhibit unwanted bladder contractions, while others may need to learn to release their pelvic floor muscles to more completely empty their bladder.
Trained therapists provide neuromodulation, a painless electrical stimulation treatment that can help calm an overactive bladder or help build strength and sensation in the patient’s pelvic floor muscles. Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation, or PTNS, has been found to be effective for patients with nocturia, significantly reducing the number of nighttime visits to the bathroom. Other applications of electrical stimulation are available, based on the patient’s needs and lifestyle.
Pelvic muscle exercise and many of the treatments provided by pelvic floor physical therapists have been recommended by the American Urological Association as a first line of treatment; thus many urologists are referring their patients for physical therapy before attempting more invasive treatments. Overactive bladder, which affects 30 percent of American men and as much as 40 percent of women, can be a vexing, disruptive condition. Physical therapists, working in concert with urologists, can provide effective, compassionate care for these sufferers.
Erin Glace, MSPT, PRPC, BCB-PMD is the Director of Physical Therapy and Urodynamics at Urology of Virginia Physical Therapy Department. www.urologyofva.net