The pelvic floor muscles are vital for supporting a healthy functioning bladder. These muscles usually allow us to maintain continence, dictate when we urinate, and consciously forget about the organ until we have the urge to relieve ourselves. When the pelvic floor muscles encounter an issue, however, the bladder can become dysfunctional as well, jeopardizing continence, and taking away urinary control. While symptoms of bladder dysfunction are quite common, pelvic floor physical therapy can alleviate symptoms for many.

Normal Bladder Function

  • Normal urination frequency is six to eight times in a 24-hour period
  • Leaking urine is never normal 
  • Bladder urge should not feel like a five-alarm fire
  • Normal voiding time is roughly 20 seconds
  • Starting the urinary stream should be easy and quick
  • Bladder urgency should go away after voiding
  • Increasing our fluid intake should increase the amount we urinate, not the frequency
  • Normal bladder capacity is 300 – 600ml
  • People under 60 years old may wake once per night to urinate, over 60 years old twice per night
  • Pain before, during, or after urinating is never normal

Normal Bladder Function

  • Normal urination frequency is six to eight times in a 24-hour period
  • Leaking urine is never normal 
  • Bladder urge should not feel like a five-alarm fire
  • Normal voiding time is roughly 20 seconds
  • Starting the urinary stream should be easy and quick
  • Bladder urgency should go away after voiding
  • Increasing our fluid intake should increase the amount we urinate, not the frequency
  • Normal bladder capacity is 300 – 600ml
  • People under 60 years old may wake once per night to urinate, over 60 years old twice per night
  • Pain before, during, or after urinating is never normal

Symptoms

  • Stress incontinence (leaking urine when coughing, laughing, sneezing, and/or during exercise)
  • Urge incontinence ( leaking on the way or before you get to the bathroom)
  • Mixed Incontinence (both stress and urge incontinence)
  • Pain or burning in the bladder and/or urethra before, during or after urinating 
  • Urinary urgency without a full bladder
  • Urinary frequency without a full bladder
  • Urinary hesitancy, slow or deviated urine stream
  • Urinary urgency during sexual activity
  • Urinary urgency/frequency after sexual activity or exercise
  • Urethra or bladder pain 
  • Climacturia (leaking urine with orgasm)

Symptoms

  • Stress incontinence (leaking urine when coughing, laughing, sneezing, and/or during exercise)
  • Urge incontinence ( leaking on the way or before you get to the bathroom)
  • Mixed Incontinence (both stress and urge incontinence)
  • Pain or burning in the bladder and/or urethra before, during or after urinating 
  • Urinary urgency without a full bladder
  • Urinary frequency without a full bladder
  • Urinary hesitancy, slow or deviated urine stream
  • Urinary urgency during sexual activity
  • Urinary urgency/frequency after sexual activity or exercise
  • Urethra or bladder pain 
  • Climacturia (leaking urine with orgasm)

Associated Diagnoses

Bladder symptoms are commonly associated with pelvic floor dysfunction and other diagnoses. Syndromes such as Endometriosis, Vulvodynia, Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome, Pudendal Neuralgia, Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome/Male Pelvic Pain, post-prostatectomy complications, the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause, and postpartum women often have bladder issues.

Associated Diagnoses

Cause of bladder dysfunction

  • Repetitive urinary tract and yeast infections
  • Hormonal suppressive medications such as oral contraceptives, GnRH agonists (i.e. Lupron), acne medications
  • Childbirth, breastfeeding, and menopause
  • Surgical trauma
  • Orthopedic injuries or traumas 
  • Biomechanical or structural dysfunction (hip dysfunction, sacro-iliac joint dysfunction, piriformis syndrome, scoliosis, leg length discrepancy)
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Constipation and gastrointestinal distress/bloating

Cause of bladder dysfunction

  • Repetitive urinary tract and yeast infections
  • Hormonal suppressive medications such as oral contraceptives, GnRH agonists (i.e. Lupron), acne medications
  • Childbirth, breastfeeding, and menopause
  • Surgical trauma
  • Orthopedic injuries or traumas 
  • Biomechanical or structural dysfunction (hip dysfunction, sacro-iliac joint dysfunction, piriformis syndrome, scoliosis, leg length discrepancy)
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Constipation and gastrointestinal distress/bloating

Diagnostic Challenges

Pelvic floor dysfunction can mimic the feelings of sexually transmitted infections and prostate and/or urinary tract and bladder infections which can lead to diagnostic confusion. It is common for people to feel certain they have an infection and then feel perplexed when the tests return normal. Bladder leaking is so common in women that it has become normalized, thereby making women less likely to seek help. Women are often told ‘it’s because you just had a baby’ or ‘it’s normal at your age’. Many men undergoing prostatectomy are not warned that up to 80% of men have post-surgical urinary incontinence. Regardless of your individual situation and underlying causes, an evaluation with a pelvic floor physical therapist is beneficial. 

Diagnostic Challenges

Pelvic floor dysfunction can mimic the feelings of sexually transmitted infections and prostate and/or urinary tract and bladder infections which can lead to diagnostic confusion. It is common for people to feel certain they have an infection and then feel perplexed when the tests return normal. Bladder leaking is so common in women that it has become normalized, thereby making women less likely to seek help. Women are often told ‘it’s because you just had a baby’ or ‘it’s normal at your age’. Many men undergoing prostatectomy are not warned that up to 80% of men have post-surgical urinary incontinence. Regardless of your individual situation and underlying causes, an evaluation with a pelvic floor physical therapist is beneficial. 

Treatment:

How We Can Help You

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If you are experiencing bladder dysfunction you will benefit from an evaluation with a pelvic floor physical therapist to determine the role pelvic floor dysfunction may be playing in your symptoms. Bladder dysfunction can be associated with pelvic floor muscles that are too tight, and/or too weak, or they may be discoordinated and do not function properly. It is important to understand that historically people were told to ‘do your kegels’ for bladder health. If your pelvic floor muscles are too tight, kegel exercises may actually make your symptoms worse, which is why we advise working with a pelvic floor physical therapist to ensure proper rehabilitation. The pelvic floor muscles may need to be lengthened before they are strengthened. During the evaluation, the physical therapist reviews your history and symptoms with you, what you have been diagnosed with in the past, the treatments you have undergone and how effective or not effective these treatments have been. Importantly, we understand what you have been going through and that most people are frustrated by the time they get to see us. 

During the physical examination the physical therapist examines muscles, tissues, joints, nerves, and movement patterns. Once the examination is complete your therapist reviews your findings with you. The physical therapist creates an assessment which explains how you developed your symptoms and creates short and long-term goals for your treatment plan. Typically, the frequency of physical therapy treatment is one to two times per week for roughly 12 weeks. You are given a home exercise program to compliment your in-person sessions, and your physical therapist will help to coordinate your recovery with the other members of your treatment team. We are here to help you recover and live your best life!

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Treatment:

How We Can Help You

3031 Telegraph Ave Ste 144, Berkeley, CA 94705

Phone:    (510) 922-9836
Fax:         (510) 922-1417
Hours:     Mon-Fri 8am – 5pm
Email:      info@pelvicpainrehab.com
Staff:      Maryssa Steffen, Karah Charette, Lisa Topete

Realizing the need for pelvic health services and the difficulty of crossing the Bay Bridge to San Francisco, Liz and Stephanie opened their second location in the East Bay in 2010. We are conveniently located minutes from highways 24, 80, 580 and 880 making us

easily accessible from anywhere in Berkeley and Oakland. We are a short walk from the Ashby BART station, or you can reach us via the MacArthur BART station and take the free Alta Bates Hospital Shuttle Bus to the Alta Bates Medical Campus which is one block from PHRC. There is also a AC Transit bus stop in front of our building as well as bus lines 6, 80, and 81 within a short walking distance to our office. There is hourly parking available in our building parking lot as well as metered street parking.

3031 Telegraph Ave Ste 144, Berkeley, CA 94705

Phone:    (510) 922-9836
Fax:         (510) 922-1417
Hours:    Mon-Fri 8am – 5pm
Email:     info@pelvicpainrehab.com
Staff:    Maryssa Steffen, Karah Charette, Lisa Topete

Realizing the need for pelvic health services and the difficulty of crossing the Bay Bridge to San Francisco, Liz and Stephanie opened their second location in the East Bay in 2010. We are conveniently located minutes from highways 24, 80, 580 and 880 making us

easily accessible from anywhere in Berkeley and Oakland. We are a short walk from the Ashby BART station, or you can reach us via the MacArthur BART station and take the free Alta Bates Hospital Shuttle Bus to the Alta Bates Medical Campus which is one block from PHRC. There is also a AC Transit bus stop in front of our building as well as bus lines 6, 80, and 81 within a short walking distance to our office. There is hourly parking available in our building parking lot as well as metered street parking.

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