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Did you know that pelvic floor dysfunction in kids is common? Most likely, you had no idea about it. According to statistics, one in every three kids experiences some urinary or fecal incontinence by reaching adulthood. The good thing is that there are things you can do to help your child if they’re struggling with this issue.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction In Kids: 4 Signs And Remedies

This article will discuss pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD), the signs to look out for in both boys and girls, and some possible remedies you can try at home. Before you’re done with reading this post, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge you need to help your child overcome pelvic floor dysfunction. Keep on reading!

What Is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Kids (PFD)?

Pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) is a condition that affects the muscles and tissues of the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor comprises muscles and tissues that support the rectum, bladder, and uterus. It also helps in controlling urination and bowel movements.

As any other physicians in other medical facilities, such as Connections Therapy Centers have emphasized that when dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction in children, you are essentially talking about a muscle not functioning correctly. Like any other muscle in the body, when the pelvic floor muscle is not working correctly, it can cause pain and other problems. For these reasons, it’s recommended that you address the problem immediately before it becomes a major medical issue.

What Causes Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

Any number of things can cause this condition. But here are some of the most common causes in kids:

Obesity

Excessive weight in kids can put a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. This increases the risks of developing pelvic floor dysfunction and other urinary incontinence problems. That said, you should help your little one to keep their weight in check.

To help your child maintain a healthy weight, encourage them to eat nutrient-rich foods and get plenty of exercises. You might also need to consult a doctor or dietitian about developing a specifically tailored diet plan for your child’s needs.

Weakened Muscles

Another sign that your kid may have pelvic floor dysfunction is if they experience muscle weakness in their pelvis or legs. This can make it challenging to sit still for long periods and may cause them to feel like they need to move their legs when sitting down. If you notice this in your child, bring it up with your doctor as it could signify pelvic floor dysfunction.

Neurological Condition

If your child has any neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida, they may be at risk of getting pelvic floor dysfunction. This is because the muscles and nerves in the pelvic floor can be affected by these conditions.

Injuries To The Pelvic Floor Muscles/Nerves

Another leading cause of pelvic floor dysfunction is an injury to the muscles, nerves, or both. This can happen during an accident, a fall, or any other type of trauma. The symptoms will depend on the severity of the injury but can range from mild tenderness and pain with urination to severe inability to control bowel movements.

If your little one has suffered a traumatic injury, it’s essential to seek medical attention because, in some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage.

Dietary Issues

Another common cause of pelvic floor dysfunction in children is dietary issues. This can include things like constipation or diarrhea. Constipation can lead to an impacted stool, leading to many problems, including pain during bowel movements and incontinence. On the other hand, diarrhea can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. These problems can be addressed through dietary changes, such as increasing fiber intake or adding probiotics to the diet.

Lack of Exercise

Another leading cause of pelvic floor dysfunction is lack of exercise. This is especially common in children who are overweight or obese. When the muscles of the pelvis are not used regularly, they can become weak and unable to support the organs correctly. This can lead to various problems, including incontinence and pain. Regular exercise can help strengthen the pelvis muscles and reduce the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction.

Signs Of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Kids

Now that you know the causes of pelvic floor dysfunction, it’s essential to identify its signs. This is especially crucial if your kid is a girl because they may not want to talk about what’s going on with them.

There are known types of urinary incontinence, such as stress incontinence when there’s a sudden pressure on the bladder, like coughing or laughing. In contrast, urge incontinence develops when a solid urge to urinate, but you can’t get to the bathroom in time.

Aside from those mentioned, here are some other common signs of pelvic floor dysfunction:

Constipation Or Difficulty Having A Bowel Movement

The most typical indication that something might be wrong is when your child has difficulty having a bowel movement or is constipated. If they’re straining to go or if it hurts them, this could be a sign of pelvic floor dysfunction.

Several things can contribute to constipation, like not drinking enough fluids or not getting enough fiber in their diet. But if your child is eating and usually drinking and still having trouble going to the bathroom, it’s worth talking to your pediatrician. They may have an anal fissure, a small tear in the lining of the anus, or another issue with their pelvic floor muscles.

Remedies:

  • If your child is constipated, the first hydration tip that you can try is to help them increase their fluid intake and make sure they’re getting enough fiber by eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • You can also try over-the-counter stool softeners or laxatives if your pediatrician recommends them.
  • For an anal fissure, your doctor may prescribe a topical cream or ointment to help heal the tear. They may also recommend increased fluids and a high-fiber diet to soften stools.

Urinary Leaks Or Bedwetting

Another common sign that there’s something wrong with your child’s pelvic floor muscles is if they start urinary leaks or wetting the bed after being previously dry. This can happen in boys and girls, but it’s more common in boys because their urethras are longer.

Urinary leakage can happen when your child coughs, laughs, or jumps, and it can signify that the muscles around their urethras aren’t working correctly. Bedwetting can also be a sign of an overactive bladder or something called primary nocturnal enuresis, which is when a child wets the bed because they have not yet learned to control their bladder during the night.

Remedies:

  • For urinary leaks, one of the first things you can do is help your child strengthen their pelvic floor muscles with exercises like Kegels.
  • If your child is bedwetting, the first thing to do is rule out any medical conditions that could be causing it. If there are no medical issues, then you can try things like making sure they go to the bathroom before bedtime and limiting their fluids in the evening. You may also want to talk to your pediatrician about medications that can help with bedwetting.

Pelvic Pain

Another common sign of pelvic floor dysfunction in children is pelvic pain. This can happen in boys and girls and can be sharp or dull, constant or intermittent. It may be worse with activity or when your child goes to the bathroom.

Several things can cause pelvic pain, including constipation, an infection, or inflammation. But if your child is having pelvic pain and you’re not sure what the cause is, it would be advisable to talk to your pediatrician as soon as possible. They may want to do some physical exams or order tests to rule out other causes.

Remedies:

  • If your child has pelvic pain, the first thing you should do is talk to their pediatrician.
  • Several things can cause pelvic pain, so your child’s doctor will want to rule out any medical conditions that could be causing it.
  • Once they have ruled out any medical causes, they may recommend over-the-counter pain medication, a heating pad, or exercises to help stretch and strengthen the muscles.

Frequent Urge To Urinate

How often your child needs to go to the washroom can indicate a problem. If they’re urinating more often than usual, with very little time intervals and urgency, this could signify that the muscles around their bladder aren’t working right.

Remedies:

  • The first step is to visit a doctor to rule out any other possibilities and get a diagnosis. If your child is diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction, treatments are available.

Ways To Treat And Prevent Pelvic Floor Dysfunction In Kids

Now that you know the signs to look out for in your child, it is crucial to understand how you can help them. If your child is showing the above symptoms, there are a few things that you can do to help:

The first step is always to consult with a medical professional. Your doctor will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis and rule out any other potential causes for your child’s symptoms.

If pelvic floor dysfunction is the cause of your child’s problems, they can undergo several treatments, such as:

Physiotherapy

This involves exercises and stretches that aim to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. You can do this either at home or with the help of a physiotherapist. The therapist will also help identify any other factors contributing to the child’s pelvic floor dysfunction. 

Bladder training

This is a process of gradually raising the time between toilet visits. This can be done with the help of a physiotherapist or continence nurse and may involve using a bladder diary to track progress.

Medication

Some over-the-counter drugs can be administered to treat incontinence, including anticholinergics and beta-blockers. These should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Surgery

Surgery may be recommended to correct an anatomical problem that is causing incontinence. This is considered the last option.

As you can see from the preventive measures listed, several different treatment options are available for children with pelvic floor dysfunction. It is crucial to speak to a healthcare professional to determine which option is best for your child. With the proper treatment, most children will be able to manage their symptoms and enjoy a normal, active childhood.

As well as treatment, there are also a few things that you can do to help prevent pelvic floor dysfunction from occurring or worsening. These include:

Avoiding constipation 

This can be achieved by ensuring that your child eats a healthy diet with plenty of fiber and drinks enough fluids. If constipation is already an issue, your GP can prescribe medication to help. Also, ensure that your child goes to the toilet when needed and doesn’t hold in their poop when the urge is already there.

Encouraging your child to do pelvic floor exercises 

These exercises can help to strengthen the muscles around the pelvis and may help prevent incontinence from occurring or worsening. Your doctor or physiotherapist can give you more information about doing these exercises.

Teaching your child good toilet habits 

This includes ensuring they spend enough time on the toilet and don’t rush their bowel movements. In addition, it’s also necessary to encourage them to wipe properly after going to the toilet.

Avoiding activities that put excessive strain on the pelvic floor muscles 

As much as possible, you should avoid heavy lifting, horse riding, and cycling due to its strain on your pelvic floor muscles. However, if your child does participate in these activities, make sure they warm up properly first. 

By following these simple tips, you can help reduce your child’s risk of developing pelvic floor dysfunction. If you are uncertain about your child’s urinary or bowel habits, speak to your doctor immediately.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction In Kids

Pelvic floor dysfunction can be a difficult and embarrassing problem for both children and parents. However, it’s essential to remember that it’s a common condition that can be effectively treated. If you think your child may be suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction, don’t hesitate to let your doctor know. With proper treatment, most children will fully recover in the long run.

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism advocate, writer, motivational speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

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