Written by SMH Outpatient Rehab Pelvic Floor Therapist Shayna Shefrin
According to the American Cancer Society, about one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, making it the most common cancer other than skin cancer in American men.
Prostatectomy, surgical removal of the prostate, is a common treatment option for men with high-risk, aggressive prostate cancer. Many men who opt for open prostatectomy suffer urinary incontinence as a side effect to the procedure.
Urinary incontinence immediately following the surgery is typical, but rates of incontinence vary greatly, ranging from 4 to 40 percent, one year after having the prostate removed. Physical therapy can help patients learn how to appropriately strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that help control continence.
The “pelvic floor” is the bowl of muscles that go from the tailbone to the pubic bone; both men and women have these muscles. These muscles help to support internal organs and prevent urine or stool leakage. A pelvic floor physical therapist can teach patients how to strengthen these muscles to and stop leaking urine/stool.
How Pelvic Floor Therapy Can Help
Pelvic floor physical therapy also teaches patients how to control the bladder. The bladder is highly trainable and can learn how to hold more or less urine, depending on urinary patterns. Techniques such as timed voiding and voiding charts can help patients regain continence.
With their physician’s clearance, prostatectomy patients can begin training their pelvic floor muscles as soon as the catheter is out, after surgery. It’s also beneficial to condition pelvic floor muscles before a prostate removal, up to four to six weeks before the surgery date.
While the focus of treatment is on the pelvic floor, a whole body evaluation is important to determine what other factors, such as poor posture and abdominal weakness, are contributing to incontinence. A pelvic floor physical therapist will look at the whole body, in addition to the pelvic floor, to help a patient map a plan to reach his goals.
With a doctorate in Physical Therapy, SMH Outpatient Therapist Shayna Shefrin specializes in treating patients who suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction at SMH’s Rehabilitation Pavilion.