08 July, 2011
Exercise After Incontinence Bladder Surgery
Following bladder surgery, exercise is important to regain your strength and to assist in recovery. If you have had a cystocele repair, or surgery to reposition your bladder, repair your vagina and reposition your urethra, your surgeon will suggest post operative exercises. Most likely, you will be told to avoid heavy lifting for several weeks following your surgery.
According to Richard Bercik, MD, Director Division of Urogynecology and Reconstruction Pelvic Surgery, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine 15 to 20 million people in the US experience urinary incontinence. The problem is twice as common in women compared to men. If you have given birth, your likelihood of pelvic organ prolapse is 50 percent. Finally, 11 percent of women with incontinence and severe prolapse require surgery.
Bladder repair for incontinence, or the involuntary leakage of urine is fairly common. The experts at the Yale School of Medicine suggest that of the 15-20 million individuals with the problem, only one third to one half seek medical care. This is unfortunate because 80-90 percent of the cases can be treated successfully.
Your surgeon may order post operative physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor. Expect the physical therapist to perform an initial evaluation including a review of your medical history, your general health status, your healing and recovery status following your surgery. Based on your age, physical condition and your doctor's orders, a plan for therapeutic exercises will be created. Physical therapy exercises are customized for each individual and are not a one-size-fits-all treatment. Your exercises could be different than the ones your neighbor did following her bladder surgery.
Exercises focus on strengthening your muscles and changing body habits that contributed to your condition. Biofeedback and electrical stimulation modalities can help target and strengthen certain muscle groups. Expect to be involved in exercises to strengthen the core muscles of your abdomen and pelvic floor. Attention will be paid to your breathing and relaxation to help reduce muscle spasms. You may be asked to apply heat or cold packs to your scar line, and massage the area around your scar.
The following is an example of a core strengthening exercise, but it should not be attempted without your doctor's permission. Lay on the floor with your knees bent and a pillow under your head. Pull the muscles of your pelvis and abdomen in and up toward your belly button. Hold this position, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, and as you breathe out slowly relax the muscles of your abdomen. Repeat this exercise for or five times. Set a goal of contracting your muscles for ten seconds. Do not do this or any exercise if you experience pain and remember, recovery is a slow and steady process.
Walking is an excellent exercise; it benefits your circulation, your heart and your lungs. Begin walking slowly with your doctor's permission. In the beginning you may want to have someone accompany you in case you feel unsteady on your feet.
According to the experts at the Gloucestershire Health Community, do not lift or move heavy objects until you have clearance from your surgeon. Any exercise that puts undue stress on your pelvis and surgical area should be avoided, This includes lifting children and heavy grocery bags. Also to be avoided is excessive stretching such as in vacuuming. You will need four to six weeks — perhaps more — to heal before you begin your normal tasks again.
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