We all have some aversion to medications from our friends in the pharmaceutical industry. We are likewise adverse to invasive surgical procedures. So, most of us would like to find solutions for life’s health and medical conditions with natural treatments whenever possible. Incontinence, the involuntary loss of urine or stool, presents a real challenge. It is a widespread condition that affects tens of millions of Americans. It gets worse and progresses as we age. But no one likes to schedule doctors’ appointments and go discuss what can sometimes feel like an embarrassing topic. So what is a person to do? And what does it mean to treat incontinence naturally?
Understanding Natural Treatments for Symptoms of Incontinence
In our medical and surgical practice, we try to craft solutions that involve physical exercise with non-invasive therapies whenever possible. Sometimes to achieve the best result, we need therapies that involve those exercises, along with dietary and behavioral changes, and potentially a surgical intervention that we try to keep as minimally invasive as possible.
In the case of refractory bowel and bladder leakage or incontinence, there is definitely a role for exercise. Beginning with Kegel exercises, one can gradually strengthen and tone the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles through repetitive squeezing exercises. A person can take that even further by utilizing more thorough exercises that involve more of the core and the whole body. This takes a page from biofeedback therapy that assesses whether the proper muscles are being engaged through different exercises and positions. At our center, we use a system of prescribed exercises that involve using positions like squatting and tightening the core while simultaneously squeezing with the Kegel maneuver, to achieve greater engagement of the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles. Studies indicate these exercise programs do have a positive effect and can reduce incontinence 30% or more.
Beyond exercise therapies, one can employ a series of behavioral changes. And while these don’t, strictly speaking, solve the bowel or bladder difficulty completely, they make a big difference by reducing the episodes. Additionally, one can keep a diary of foods and beverages that affect bowel and bladder frequency, habits, and accidents. Changing diet and liquid intake, avoiding liquids, and especially alcohol and caffeine before bed and at certain times of day can help a lot. Avoiding foods that cause diarrhea or loose bowel movements can help tremendously to avoid bowel leakage.
While there are reports of herbal remedies and non-regulated supplements for the treatment of incontinence, it’s very difficult to measure whether these have any effectiveness. I have hope that some of these herbal and natural remedies might help, but skepticism is warranted. Pick any health condition whatsoever and google natural remedies or herbal remedies for that health condition, and you will find a huge assortment of products for sale. These usually do not have scientific studies or even credible experiments where the treatment is compared to placebo, which is not much to persuade a skeptic. The unregulated markets are a haven for bogus offerings that may not even contain what the label says. Having said that, there are dedicated and earnest naturopathic practitioners who recommend gosha-jinki-gan, saw palmetto, and resiniferitoxin to patients. Hope springs eternal.
Successfully Resolving Incontinence
The good news is that solving incontinence has never been easier and more successful, if you seek out the right doctor and clinic. Sacral neuromodulation is a fancy term that describes the use of a pacemaker technology device in a truly minimally invasive procedure with proven 90% success. The procedure is paired with exercises and behavior changes to achieve outstanding results. Is it natural? Well, there is a natural aspect to it because the device sends a computerized signal to restore the body’s natural muscles and nerves, rather than surgically attempting to tighten muscles or place mesh slings. Safer, simpler, and far more effective, the painless procedure requires a small Band-Aid. Not quite the “fully natural” procedure that some would prefer, but a big improvement over treatments in the past. And most importantly, it has an outstanding success rate.
Ready to learn more? The team at Nevada Surgical here in Reno is happy to answer your questions about incontinence resolution. Contact us today to get started.