Incontinence Treatments: Nothing is Working

Jasmine Schmidt Health Guide
  • “Nothing is working!” That’s a phrase I hear all too often in this line of work. While there are a lot of treatments out there for incontinence, ranging from pelvic floor exercises to medications to surgeries, the simple fact is that they don’t work for everyone; and some people choose not to try every possible solution for a variety of reasons. That’s why, for the next few weeks, I’ll be devoting my SharePosts to exploring alternative approaches to treating and managing incontinence.


    In this SharePost, I’ll talk about what alternative (or complementary or integrative) medicine is, how it works, and what types are available. In the next few weeks I’ll find some specific examples of how nontraditional medicine can and has been used for individuals with incontinence.

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    Now that my fiancée has decided to go into acupuncture, I have learned that the P.C. term (of the moment) is “complementary” medicine, rather than “alternative.” The change in terminology reflects a shift in the medical community towards trying to merge traditional medicine (or “biomedical”) with complementary for the optimal benefit of the patient. It’s important to note that there are some individuals who do practice truly alternative medicine, in that they use these alternative methods wholly in the place of traditional, biomedical treatment. The phrase “integrative medicine” is also used to describe complementary treatments. The exact definitions of all these different nuances is different depending on how you ask, so for the purpose this SharePost I’ll use the word “complementary.”


    Complementary medicine covers basically anything that isn’t considered “mainstream” medicine. There are TONS of treatments included on the list of complementary medicines, and new ones are emerging all the time (new to the U.S., Canada, and other countries using primarily Western medicine, although often ancient in other parts of the world).


    Just as you want to research the variety of biomedical treatment options available for incontinence, if complementary medicine interests you, you’ll want to investigate the wealth of options available to you so that you can make a well-informed choice. The list of complementary medicine includes the following:


    • Acupuncture
    • Aromatherapy
    • Chiropractic
    • Massage
    • Homeopathic
    • Herbal remedies
    • Qi gong
    The National Institutes of Health has established a department called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) that provides information about the different types of alternative and complementary treatments, as well as funding for research grants. The NCCAM states that it’s difficult to find reliable statistics about the usage of complementary medicine, but according to one study they conducted, they found that 36% of Americans are using some form of complementary or alternative medicine.


    Complementary and alternative medicines can be controversial, so I thought it would be best if I simply state what this department says on their Web site: “While some scientific evidence exists regarding some CAM [complementary and alternative medicine] therapies, for most there are key questions that are yet to be answered through well-designed scientific studies--questions such as whether these therapies are safe and whether they work for the diseases or medical conditions for which they are used.” I am far from being an expert on the topic of complementary medicine, so if you’re interested in finding more information, I suggest you go to the NCCAM website:

  • The NCCAM Web site doesn’t provide much information about how complementary medicine works for specific conditions, such as incontinence, so I’ll dig up some information and personal stories about individuals using complementary medicine for incontinence and I’ll be back with it in my next SharePost.

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Published On: June 13, 2007