What Is Neurogenic Bladder?
Your bladder relies
on muscles to contract and release when you’re ready to urinate. Your brain
typically regulates this process, but sometimes the message that you need to
urinate isn’t sent from your brain to your bladder. This is a condition known
as neurogenic bladder. Treatment for this condition can help you regain
What Are the Symptoms of Neurogenic Bladder?
Neurogenic bladder causes you to lose
control over your ability to urinate. This can cause you to urinate too much or
not enough, both of which can have harmful consequences.
Neurogenic bladder symptoms include:
- a dribbling stream when urinating
- an inability to fully empty your bladder
- straining during urination
- a loss of bladder control
- increased urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- leaking urine
- difficulty determining when your bladder is full
See your doctor if you have these symptoms
or others that are related to urinating.
What Causes the Neurogenic Bladder?
Neurogenic bladder is a condition
caused by the nerves along the pathway between the bladder and the brain not
working properly. This can be due to a brain disorder or bladder nerve damage.
Examples of brain disorders that can
cause neurogenic bladder include:
Conditions that affect the bladder
If your doctor thinks you might have a
neurogenic bladder, they’ll test your bladder muscles and your nervous system.
Treating the underlying condition can help your symptoms.
What Are the Complications of Neurogenic
Because this condition causes you to lose
the sensation to urinate your bladder can fill beyond typical capacity and
leak. But your bladder may not empty fully. This is called urinary retention.
Urinary retention increases your risk
of a UTI. Infection can result when urine remains in your bladder or kidneys
for too long.
Frequent urinary tract and kidney
infections can lead to damage over time. This can ultimately lead to kidney
failure, which can be fatal.
How Is Neurogenic Bladder Diagnosed?
In addition to reviewing your medical
history and conducting a physical exam, your doctor may recommend a variety of
diagnostic tests to determine if you have neurogenic bladder. These may
- a cystometrogram to test bladder function and
- an electromyography to test bladder muscle tone and
- spinal and brain imaging
- kidney and bladder imaging
How Is Neurogenic Bladder Treated?
Your doctor will likely recommend a
variety of treatments.
They may suggest that you urinate at
regular intervals, which will prevent your bladder from becoming too full. Your
doctor may also ask you to keep a journal to record any leakage incidents. This
can help you determine the best intervals for urinating. They may also suggest
therapies such as Kegel
exercises and pelvic floor muscle
Electrical Stimulation Therapy
Another treatment option is electrical
stimulation therapy. This therapy involves placing small electrodes on the
bladder. When stimulated, the electrodes can send impulses to the brain,
telling it you need to urinate.
There are no medications to treat or
control neurogenic bladder specifically. However, some medications can reduce
or enhance muscle contractions. These help to ensure proper emptying of the
In some instances, your doctor may
recommend catheterization to ensure complete bladder emptying. This painless
process involves inserting a thin plastic tube into the bladder to release
urine. However, this procedure carries the risk for increased UTIs. Your doctor
may prescribe antibiotics at low doses to minimize the risk for UTIs.
Your doctor can insert an artificial
sphincter into your body that stimulates urination. Other surgical options
include implanting a urethral stent, which mimics the action of a
Medical manufacturers are continuing
to release new inventions, such as bladder slings, to reduce symptoms and help
improve bladder control. Your doctor will take these into consideration when
helping you determine what’s best for you.