Urinary incontinence is a very common problem, affecting around 13 million adults in the U.S., 75% of them been women and costing over $15 billion yearly. The prevalence of urinary incontinence is between 15% and 35% for older adults living in the community and women are affected twice as much as men. Urinary incontinence is even more common among residents of nursing homes, where more than 50% of the residents experience this condition. Urinary incontinence is one of the major precipitants for placing elderlies in nursing homes. This condition is associated with a high burden of sickness, high costs and has a huge effect on quality of life.
Stress incontinence is characterized by a loss of urine occurring while having activities that increase intra-abdominal pressure, like coughing, sneezing or lifting heavy objects. The majority of stress incontinence cases are the result of the weakening of the pelvic floor due mainly to aging and childbirth.
Urge incontinence occurs when patients are unable to hold urine in response to the urge to urinate. This inability to hold urine is the result of uncontrolled bladder contractions due to the instability of the detrusor muscle that normally remains relaxed to allow the bladder to store urine and that contracts during urination to release urine.
In many cases, features of both stress and urge incontinence co-exist, condition for which the term mixed incontinence is used.
Several options exist to treat stress, urge, and mixed incontinence, ranging from behavioral measures to surgical procedures. In general, for most patients, a phased approach to treat this condition is recommended, starting with the most conservative techniques and progressing to pharmacologic or surgical treatments.
The most recent guidelines for the management of urinary incontinence recommend trying behavioral treatments prior to the use of drugs or surgery such as toileting assistance, bladder training and pelvic floor muscles exercises.
The 1996 AHCPR guidelines on treatment of urinary incontinence stated that "Pelvic muscle rehabilitation and bladder inhibition using biofeedback therapy are recommended for patients with stress urinary incontinence, urge urinary incontinence or mixed urinary incontinence."
Biofeedback is not a treatment by itself, but it is used in conjunction with pelvic floor exercises to improve patients’ ability to perform pelvic muscles exercises properly by providing concurrent feedback on their muscles tone. Thanks to biofeedback patients can learn how to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles and to control bladder emptying.
Biofeedback has been proven effective to treat urinary incontinence in many research studies and is used to help women learn to control and strengthen their pelvic floor muscles.
Patients have difficulty identifying, controlling and coordinating their pelvic floor muscles, so they perform the pelvic floor exercises ineffectively. This is where biofeedback helps. Thanks to biofeedback, pelvic floor exercises are performed with simultaneous electromyographic feedback given to the patient to help facilitate awareness of the state of his muscle contractions.
Basically biofeedback is a therapy that uses an electronic or mechanical device to relay visual and/or auditory evidence of pelvic floor muscle tone, to improve awareness of pelvic floor muscles and to assist patients in the performance of pelvic floor muscle exercises.
This method involves placing a sensor, also known as an electrode or probe into the vagina. The probe, connected to a visual and/or sound system, lets you see and/or hear the contraction. According to the colour of the light or the intensity of the sound, you will know whether the muscular contraction is done properly or not.
The biofeedback allows you to correct the contraction while doing the exercises on your own, as well as allowing you to gradually increase the effort and duration. The biofeedback will help you get more and more confident knowing that you are correctly contracting your pelvic floor muscles and properly carrying out your exercises.
Even though urinary incontinence is so common, many women do not realise how easy it is to treat. There is a wide range of options available such as vaginal pessaries, prescription medications, surgery and Kegel exercises and this is where the XFT iEase pelvic floor biofeedback toner can help you regain control of your bladder.