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updated: 1/20/2014 11:33 AM

Falling Into Pelvic Floor Issues

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Nasty falls within a few years of each other led to a series of bad hamstring tears, coupled with preexisting Piriformis Syndrome which then caused pelvic floor spasms and urinary incontinence for Debra Kluzek, 47, of Lake in the Hills, Ill. While performing her job, Kluzek slipped on late winter ice, which brought her work and other daily activities to a halt.

"I was in chronic pain, had to go on an unpaid leave of absence from work and planned my day carefully so I wouldn't ever be too far from a bathroom because I was so afraid of having an accident," said Kluzek. "I wasn't able to volunteer in my community and I couldn't enjoy going to the movies. My poor dogs, Gypsy and Kahlua, had to be satisfied with the backyard because I couldn't even take them for a walk."

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Kluzek's doctor prescribed physical therapy and she found her way to Athletico and physical therapist Kelly Todd, PT, DPT, and she is forever grateful. Kluzek had physical therapy after the first fall and hamstring pull, but she didn't realize that it could also help other issues.

Urinary incontinence is a significant problem, affecting more than 25 million adults. It is an issue particularly for women, as more than one in four between ages 18 and 59 suffer from the embarrassing problem according to the National Association for Continence.

As the Women's Health Program Manager for Athletico, Lake in the Hills, Todd took the time to fully assess Kluzek's issues and put together a treatment plan to help her not only get back on her feet but deal with her incontinence.

Kluzek was suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction and excess muscle tightness, so Todd coached her on techniques including Kegels and other internal muscle-strengthening exercises to lessen the pain and urinary leaks. Todd showed her a variety of strengthening exercises for her hip and core, and performed internal and external stretching, myofascial release, soft tissue work, and massage to relax and reinforce Kluzek's pelvic area. She used biofeedback, the process of understanding and ultimately controlling your body's response to a trigger, and had Kluzek use a dilator at home to stretch the tissue herself.

Todd also explained the importance of dietary changes -- such as reducing caffeine -- and how to retrain her bladder by keeping a diary of how often Kluzek used the bathroom. Kluzek had gotten in the habit of trying to go the bathroom frequently to avoid an accident, which led to an overactive bladder.

As a specialist in women's health physical therapy, Todd sees many patients with urinary incontinence, which can have a significant impact on quality of life. She wishes more knew that they didn't have to suffer, and that physical therapy can offer a solution.

"Debra was very motivated to get better," said Todd. "She worked hard and she was able to stop worrying about accidents and get back to her life."

"I'm back to work, I'm riding the stationary bike and I can go for walks with my dogs again," said Kluzek. "I'm so excited to be able to go to my niece's gymnastics meets without discomfort and without constantly wondering where the nearest bathroom is."

If you or a loved one is suffering from pelvic floor issues visit www.athletico.com. There you can take a quiz to see if physical therapy would improve your condition. You can also visit the Athletico Lake in the Hills facility at 280 N. Randall Road for a complimentary injury screening to get your life back on track.

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