Incontinence is a common complaint. The severity of symptoms can vary widely: from stress incontinence in which a few drops of urine leak when coughing or sneezing to the inability to hold urine when running or jumping, right through to the completely uncontrolled emptying of the bladder.
For the person affected this is extremely unpleasant and embarrassing, which is why this problem is rarely spoken about. It is estimated that one in ten men and one in four women experience incontinence at some time in their lives.
The main causes of incontinence are a prolapsed womb following childbirth, a prostate operation or general weakness in the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Sufferers are usually offered two treatment options. Firstly intensive training for the pelvic floor muscles and, if that treatment is not sufficient, an operation. Of course, most people want to avoid an operation. But training of the pelvic floor muscles often does not produce the desired success. The bladder should retain urine without any need for the pelvic floor muscles to be actively tensed.
Functional Muscle Therapy (fmt) offers a completely different therapeutic approach here: less tension rather than more!
This often results in considerable improvement in the symptoms within a short period of time. How can that happen? fmt considers that the cause of incontinence is not weak constrictor muscles but rather excessive tension within the muscle tissue of the pelvic floor or lower abdomen. What causes this excessive tension?
The pelvic floor muscles spread out between the pubic bone, the ischium and the coccyx and close the lower opening of the pelvic bones. The organs of the lower pelvis (bladder, uterus, prostate, rectum) are not only positioned directly on the pelvic floor but are also in part directly linked to it via body orifices. The pelvic floor also forms the external constrictor muscles of the urethra and the anus.
In women, increased tension in individual muscle fibres or scarring from episiotomy during childbirth or operations via the vagina are commonly found. In men, it may be scarring after a prostate operation. Or emotional strain, such as stress, fear, suppressed anger and bitterness, can lead to increased tension in the region of the pelvic floor. In addition, scarring from operations in the lower abdomen may also be a trigger e.g. a Caesarean, hysterectomy, appendectomy etc.
The length of time since the operation is not a factor, the operation can lead to incontinence even after many years.
Think of the pelvic floor as a rescue sheet as used by the fire-brigade. It should be evenly curved. If one or more fibres of the cloth were put under tension and shortened, the curve would no longer be even. There would be several curved areas with tight fibres between them. If you transpose this image to the pelvic floor, you can imagine that both the structure of the bony pelvis is distorted (e.g. iliosacral joint blockages) as well as the position of the pelvic organs and the function of the constrictor muscles.
In fmt the therapist tries to regulate this tension in the pelvic floor and to make the scarring flexible. In doing so the scar or muscle tension on the involuntary constrictor muscle of bladder is eliminated and this is usually clearly felt after only one treatment.