A diagnosis of prostate cancer can be scary. Lucky, if caught early, it may be able to be treated with surgical removal of the prostate. Unfortunately, because the prostate surrounds the urethra, or the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, surgical removal of the prostate may injure the urethra and can lead to problems with bladder leakage, or urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence after prostate removal can affect up to 40% of men.1 Most males have never experienced bladder leakage prior to this, and it can be very distressing!
Bladder leakage can greatly affect everyday function in the areas of recreational, social, or occupational well-being. If you experienced bladder leakage every time you stood up from a chair, or every time you went on a walk for exercise, your quality of life could decline. The good news is, pelvic floor physical therapy can help!
Pelvic floor physical therapy has been found to restore bladder control quicker and to a greater degree than the “wait and see” method, especially when working with a specially-trained pelvic floor physical therapist.1 Pelvic floor physical therapists are specially trained to develop and instruct in exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and the urethral sphincter muscles (the muscles surrounding the urethra, which close the urethra and prevent bladder leakage) as well as to evaluate and instruct in body mechanics an movement patterns to eliminate extra stress on the bladder, which can also contribute to incontinence. With pelvic floor physical therapy, studies have shown than 88% of men who performed pelvic floor exercises were continent after 3 months.1
With these types of results, why wouldn’t you give pelvic floor physical therapy a try? Surgical intervention to reduce incontinence is not recommended for at least 12 months after prostate removal, and may possibly be avoided all together with some simple exercises.1 Your pelvic floor physical therapist will develop an exercise program tailored to you to improve not only pelvic floor strength, but also hip and core strength to reduce bladder leakage and give you a better quality of life. Most exercises given at pelvic floor physical therapy are simple and don’t take much time to complete, allowing them to easily fit into your daily schedule. Along with developing an exercise program, your pelvic floor physical therapist can also evaluate for and treat scar tissue that can develop after surgery which many also lead to pain and impaired bladder function. Remember, it is always important to pick a pelvic floor physical therapist with the best training to give you the very best results. In the area of pelvic floor physical therapy, research has found and proven that extensive training and experience lead to the best results. Also, keep in mind that as a medical consumer, you have a choice on where you receive your treatment! Pick the provider who will be best for YOU, the patient!
Although urinary incontinence following prostate removal surgery is common, pelvic floor physical therapy is an easy, conservative, and effective treatment method to regain control, leading to an overall improved quality of life.
- Singla N, Singla A. Post-prostatectomy incontinence: Etiology, evaluation, and management. Turk J Uroo. 2014 Mar; 40(1): 1-8.