Incontinence and bladder problems affect about three million people in the UK

06 March 2018

Debbie Thorpe of Spire Norwich Hospital discusses with Emma Gampell Specialist Physiotherapist, local initiatives for continence, pelvic pain and a range of related conditions.

Incontinence and bladder problems affect about three million people in the UK, so incontinence is far more common than you may think, typically affecting women four times more than men. Incontinence can be an embarrassing subject which can affect your personal life, your confidence and the overall quality of your day-to-day living. Specialist Physiotherapist, Emma Gampell answers some common concerns people may have about this condition.

What is incontinence?

Incontinence is the accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or bowel (faecal incontinence). Incontinence is a widespread condition that ranges from the occasional leak when you laugh, cough or exercise to the complete inability to control your bladder or bowel. Other symptoms you may experience include the constant need to urgently or frequently visit the toilet, associated with 'accidents'.

What causes incontinence?

There are numerous risk factors which may increase the chances of developing incontinence; pregnancy, childbirth, blockage or obstruction to your bladder/bowel, poor muscle control, obesity, increasing age, lower urinary tract symptoms, menopause, neurological disorders (conditions affecting your brain and spinal cord) and prostate problems may contribute to incontinence.

How can physiotherapy help?

Emma Gampell explains, "The Women’s and Men’s Health Centre at Spire Norwich Hospital aims to reduce your pain, help manage your symptoms, improve bladder/bowel control and restore your confidence to enable you to resume your recreational pursuits. Our pelvic floor physiotherapy programme offers high standards of individual care delivered by highly specialist physiotherapists who assess and treat your specific needs."

Tailored advice and treatment for your specific condition is provided using up-to-date technology and equipment including:

Biofeedback – an assessment of the pelvic floor muscles by palpation (method of feeling with fingers or hands during an external physical examination) or use of vaginal sensors to measure the muscle activity

Electrical muscle stimulation – to stimulate the nerve supply in the pelvic floor promoting strength gain when combined with active exercise

Therapeutic ultrasound – to treat swelling and aid healing after surgery or childbirth

Functional training – skills and techniques to improve bladder capacity and control

Gymnasium – to help develop core stability and teach abdominal exercises correctly for additional support and power

What other symptoms can be treated?

The Women’s and Men’s Health Centre treats a number of conditions including:

  • urinary incontinence (stress, urge and mixed)
  • faecal incontinence
  • overactive bladder
  • constipation
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • prolapse (bladder, rectal, uterine)
  • pre-operative and post-operative gynaecological and urological surgery rehabilitation
  • post-operative colorectal surgery rehabilitation
  • post-operative prostate surgery rehabilitation
  • pelvic pain

What happens during a consultation?

Emma continues, "At your first appointment a detailed medical history will be taken, followed by a thorough assessment of your condition. This enables your physiotherapist to establish your baseline function, from which we can measure your improvement.

"You will receive expert advice and treatment with a personal programme tailored to your needs and with your consent, your physiotherapist can also refer you to a consultant and arrange access, when necessary, to our diagnostic facilities including X-ray, CT and MRI scanning.

"Your physiotherapist can liaise with your GP or consultant and provide them with a detailed discharge summary at the end of your treatment."

How to arrange an appointment

Incontinence can be treated, better managed and in many cases significantly improved. For this reason, it is important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms. The Women’s and Men’s Health Centre is open to all, not just those with private medical insurance. For advice on the cost of treatment in advance contact our physiotherapy department on 01603 255 587.

Should you require further information about the physiotherapy services available to you locally, please contact one of the team on 01603 255 587 or visit

The content of this page is provided for general information only. It should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.


Event Booking Form


Marketing Information

Spire would like to provide you with marketing information about products and services offered by Spire and by selected third-party partners. If you do not consent for us to process your personal data for marketing activities, we will still be able to contact you about your enquiry.

We may contact you by email, SMS or phone about your enquiry. If we try to contact you by phone (mobile and/or landline) and you are not available, we may leave you a voicemail message. We may also use your details to contact you about patient surveys we use for improving our service or monitoring outcomes, which are not a form of marketing.

Submit my enquiry