Frequently Asked Questions

  • If you don't see your question answered here, please visit our Ask a Therapist tab.  You can submit your question there, and a Therapist will respond to your question within one business day.

: What causes Urinary Incontinence?

A:  Stress Incontinence (SUI) usually results from weakness and lack of support in the muscles of the pelvic floor.  these are the muscles that attach to the bottom of the pelvic bones.  The pelvic floor muscles also work to strengthen the low back, stabilize the pelvic bones, and help with sexual function.  Women with Stress Incontinence often have "under active" pelvic floor muscles.  Causes of under active pelvic floor muscles include:
    * Pregnancy and child birth
    * Injury or trauma
    * Surgery
    * Lack of exercise and lack of use
Men also suffer from Stress Incontinence most often as a result of having or being treated for prostate conditions.  Causes of male SUI may include:
    * Injury or trauma
    * Surgery
    * Prostate conditions
    * Lack of exercise and lack of use

Urge Incontinence is the sudden and often frequent need to urinate due to involuntary bladder spasms or contractions, regardless of the amount of urine in the bladder.  Women/Men may notice a strong urge to use the bathroom, but have difficulty getting there in time.  And/or they may notice that once they get to the bathroom, not much urine is voided.  Those with urge incontinence often have weak and "over active" pelvic floor muscles.
Mixed Incontinence is a combination of the symptoms and causes of stress and urge incontinence.

How can Physical Therapy for Women help my Urinary Incontinence?

A:  Physical Therapy can give you back your control over your bladder!  Physical therapy can reduce or even eliminate your use of medications for incontinence and possibly prevent the need for surgery. 

What does Physical Therapy for incontinence include?

A:  A licensed Physical Therapist will meet with you on your initial evaluation to discuss your concerns, explain our program, complete an assessment and establish a plan of care to best meet your goals.
    * Education on diet and nutrition to avoid foods and drinks that may irritate the bladder.
    * Advice on how to change behaviors that make symptoms worse.
    * Techniques to help you find the right muscles and learn to use them correctly.
    * Pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles.
    * Ways to decrease urinary urge and frequency.
    * Biofeedback that shows you how your muscles are working.
    * Electrical stimulation to improve awareness and strength of the muscles.

What is Pelvic Pain?

A:  Pelvic Pain is felt in the lower abdomen, pelvis, or perineum and is considered to be"chronic" when it lasts more than six months.  The pain may vary; some people say that it feels like an aching pain; others say that it feels like a burning, sharp, or stabbing pain, or even pins and needles.  You may also have pain in the hip or buttock, pain in tailbone or pubic bone, inability to sit for normal periods of time, pain in the joints of the pelvis, pain with sexual intercourse, tender points in the muscles of the abdomen, reduced ability to move you hips or low back, difficulty walking, sleeping, doing physical activities, urinary frequency, urgency, or incontinence, painful bowel movements, constipation or straining with bowel movements. (with a prolapse, there may also be a sensation of pelvic heaviness or a feeling of sitting on a ball due to the pelvic organs bulging).

How can Physical Therapy for Women help with pelvic pain?

A:  Based on your evaluation, your therapist will design a treatment plan to help reduce muscle tightness, improve muscle strength, and improve how you use your muscles - which will help reduce your pain and increase your ability to perform your normal routines.  Your therapist will teach you relaxation exercises, show you how to "find" the right muscles and use them correctly, use pelvic floor exercises including kegels, and instruct you in exercises to stretch and strengthen other important muscles and retrain them so that they work together normally. 

What is Lymphedema?

A: Lymphedema occurs when there is an abnormal accumulation of lymphatic fluid in a body or region of the body.  Most commonly an arm or leg.  Lymphedema can be hereditary (primary lymphedema) or more commonly a result of surgical removal of lymph nodes, cancer, scar tissue, radiation, or injury to the area.  Secondary Lymphedema can be a hereditary condition, but it is most commonly the result of blockages caused by infection, cancer, and scar tissue from radiation therapy or the surgical removal of lymph nodes. Signs include: swelling in your arms, legs, shoulders, hands, fingers, or chest. Skin that feels tighter, harder, or thicker than normal, aching feeling or heaviness, weakness in your arm or leg, inability to move certain joints such as wrist or ankle, clothing, rings, bracelets, or shoes that fit tighter than before, repeated infections, joint pain, and difficulty doing your daily activities.  Lymphedema is generally not "painful", but can be described as "heaviness and/or pressure." 

How can Physical Therapy for Women help with lymphedema?

A: Jennifer R. Shepherd, PT, CLT-LANA, the owner of Physical Therapy for Women is a Certified Lymphedema Therapist, and is also certified through LANA (Lymphology Association of North America). Amanda Knauff, DPT, CLT, Samantha Huebner, DPT, CLT and Jennifer Guardino, MSPT, CLT are also Certified Lymphedema Therapists.  Your therapist will work closely with you to design a treatment program to help you control the swelling and meet your goals for returning to your activities. In early stages of lymphedema swelling is mild and it can often be managed by skin care, manual lymphatic drainage, compression garments, and specific exercises to encourage lymph flow. For more severe swelling, a treatment called "complete decongestive therapy" may be used. The initial step is manual lymphatic drainage (which feels like a massage) and helps to improve flow. This is followed by compression bandaging that helps to reduce the swelling. This is continued daily until the limb is decreased in size as much as possible.  An ideal compression garment is then issued to maintain this progress.  Therapy consists of comprehensive education, and a home exercise program to best assist you in managing your lymphedema.  We are always available to remeasure your arm/leg and help you obtain additional compression garments when/if your future needs change.  We are here to help you best manage your lymphedema while you are a patient and even when you are no longer actively attending therapy.  

How long will my therapist spend with me?
A:  Each appointment at Physical Therapy for Women is a private one hour session where you will receive one on one care by your therapist.

Will I see the same therapist each time?

A:  At Physical Therapy for Women we understand the need for discretion and sensitivity when dealing with many of these health issues.  We work as a team, your therapist will choose one other therapist to be a part of your care.  This allows you to gain additional education/expertise and give you more flexibility when scheduling.

How do I get an appointment for an evaluation?

A:  The first thing you need to do is talk with your Dr. and request that they refer you to Physical Therapy for Women.  Your Doctor can fax the referral over to us at (910)798-2319, or you can call us directly to set up an appointment (910)798-2318.  As soon as we receive a referral we call you to set up your first appointment.

  Do I have to have a referral to receive physical therapy?

A:  In the state of North Carolina, it is not required to have a referral to receive treatment by a physical therapist.  However, most insurances do still require a referral.  A referral is not needed for patients who choose to be self-pay.

Do you file insurance?

A:  We do file most major insurances including: Medicare, BC/BS, MedCost, United HealthCare, Cigna, and Tricare. Please call your insurance provider for your specific physical therapy benefits. Our Billing and Coding Specialist, Seth Swain can also be contacted at 798-2318 to assist you with any financial concerns.  We file claims daily, electronically.

Do I have to have insurance to receive therapy?
A:  Although we are in network with most insurances, patients without insurance or PT coverage can receive services at a self pay rate.  Please discuss this with our staff prior to, or at the time of scheduling your evaluation. 

What if I have questions about possible physical therapy treatment options regarding my specific diagnosis?

A:  Feel free to call our office during business hours and request to speak with a therapist about therapy options, or what to expect during your evaluation/treatment.  We will do our best to briefly explain what to expect, so as to best prepare you for your care at Physical Therapy for Women.

What if I have a question that is not answered here?

A:  You are in luck!  Visit our Ask a Therapist tab and submit your question to us and Therapist will respond to your question within one business day.

1630 Military Cutoff Road, Suite 110, Wilmington, North Carolina 28403 | (910)798-2318 | email