Physiotherapy for Overactive Bladder

What Is An Overactive Bladder?

An overactive bladder develops when the muscle of the bladder contracts more often than normal. This can happen even when the volume of urine in the bladder is small. It tends to increase with age and it affects 3 times more women than men. It is a treatable medical condition.

What Are The Symptoms?

You will have the following symptoms:

  • Urgency: Strong urge to pass urine even when the volume of urine in the bladder is low, and is difficult to suppress or postpone.
  • Frequency: The need to pass urine more than 7 times during the day.
  • Nocturia: The need to wake up from sleep one or more times during the night
  • Urge incontinence: Involuntary loss of urine before reaching a toilet and when a strong urge is felt.

How Does Your Bladder Work?

Urine is formed when our kidneys remove waste and water from the blood. Urine flows downward from the kidneys through a pair of tubes called the ureters, into our bladder, which is a balloon-like structure located in the pelvis.

During urination, we empty our bladder when urine leaves the bladder through a tube called the urethra. The urethra is controlled by sphincter muscles. When the sphincter muscles relax, they open and allow urine to flow out. At the same time, the muscles of the bladder wall (i.e. detrusor muscles) contract to force the urine out. After urination, the sphincter muscles contract and close the urethra while the bladder stops contracting and relaxes.

What Are The Treatment Options For An Overactive Bladder?

  • Medication which may be prescribed by your doctor to help relax the bladder and relieve the sensation of urgency. Estrogen may be inserted vaginally if you are menopausal.
  • Behavioural Therapy which comprises a Bladder Retraining Program where you are taught to empty the bladder at regular intervals. In addition, distraction relaxation and / or perineal pressure techniques may be incorporated to help you overcome the sense of urgency.
  • Pelvic Floor Exercises are designed to strengthen the sphincter muscles thereby reducing incontinence episodes and severity.
  • Electrical Stimulation reduces the contraction of the bladder muscles and improves the bladder capacity for urine storage.

The Role Of The Physiotherapist

The physiotherapist will assess your condition and review your 'bladder diary' (frequency-volume chart). This chart monitors your frequency of passing urine and the volume of urine passed each time and incontinence episodes. The physiotherapist will review you on a fortnightly interval to monitor progress. Based on the findings, your physiotherapist will prescribe therapy that best suits your needs. You can stop seeing the physiotherapist after you have achieved good bladder habits and do not have urinary leakage.

Rehabilitation Department

The Rehabilitation Department offers a wide range of therapy services for both women and children.

Our team of dedicated activity therapist, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech-language therapists strive to deliver high quality specialised services to all patients.


Physiotherapy is the first line of treatment for some urogynaecological conditions like urinary and pelvic organ prolapses. Physiotherapy treatment is safe and non-invasive and is an option before surgery is considered. Patients are often referred to the physiotherapist by the gynaecologist or urogynaecologist.

Here We Are

Rehabilitation Department is located on Basement One of the Children's Tower, KK Women's & Children Hospital.

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