As many as eight in ten women deal with urinary incontinence at some point in their lives, the embarrassing condition of losing bladder control. A Bridge City, Texas woman opens up about the life-altering problem and what she is doing to regain control through specialized physical therapy.
Cindy Thibodeaux has what she calls a "double whammy" health problem: multiple sclerosis and neuropathy. That has led to a host of other issues. "When I lost sensation in the pelvic area, along with the lack of muscle tone from the MS," said Thibodeaux, "it all kind of went hand in hand."
The most noticeable problem: urinary incontinence, leaking urine without even knowing it. "It is so disheartening and very embarrassing to me to not be able to have that control," said Thibodeaux, "and even with intimacy, to know that I have even a little bit of control."
Johnnie Kleinschmidt is a physical therapist at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women where she focuses on pelvic health. "It's a muscular hammock that just basically holds up all the organs in the pelvis," said Kleinschmidt, "and men have them as well as women."
Kleinschmidt works with patients, like Thibodeaux, that learn how to find, isolate and condition the muscles that are causing the problems. "I do hands-on therapy, manual therapy, and we do modalities such as electrical stimulation," said Kleinschmidt.
Almost all patients that undergo this sort of specialized physical therapy will be connected to a biofeedback machine. That way you can see how your muscles are contracting and compare the results over each visit.
Thibodeaux is continuing to see improvement in the strength of her pelvic muscles, but has also learned to make some other personal changes to have control over the incontinence. "I have to pretty much put myself on a schedule to go to the restroom," she said, "just go and empty your bladder. Don't wait."
Incontinence can also have a major impact on your ability to be intimate. But, addressing the problem when it starts can get you on the fast track to treatment and recovery.