Neurogenic bladder is a bladder dysfunction caused by the nervous system and affects the bladder and urination. This article discusses in more detail what it is, its symptoms, and how it’s treated. If you have problems with urination, contact the expert urologists at Urology of Greater Atlanta in Blue Ridge. The team provides state-of-the-art testing to diagnose your condition and personalized treatments to relieve your symptoms and restore your urinary health.
What Is a Neurogenic Bladder?
When your nervous system is responsible for conditions that affect your bladder, it is called neurogenic bladder. There are two principal types of bladder control problems that can occur with a neurogenic bladder. The bladder can either become overactive (spastic or hyper-reflexive) or underactive (flaccid or hypotonic).
An overactive bladder is often identified when a person has difficulties emptying their bladder fully, or the bladder will empty itself before a person reaches the bathroom. This is also called urinary incontinence.
An underactive bladder occurs when your bladder muscles lose their ability to hold your urine. As a result, you’re no longer able to sense when your bladder is full or to empty it completely, so it overflows and urine leaks out. This is also called overflow incontinence.
Bladder spasms can cause the bladder to shrink before the person reaches the toilet creating a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. This is called urge incontinence.
What Causes a Neurogenic Bladder?
Neurogenic bladder can either be present at birth or be caused by other medical conditions that develop later in life. Congenital disabilities that can cause neurogenic bladder are:
- Spina bifida (myelomeningocele)
- Sacral agenesis
- Cerebral palsy
Medical conditions that develop later in life that can cause neurogenic bladder can include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Acute spinal cord injury
- Spinal surgeries
- Erectile dysfunction
- Brain or spinal cord tumors
- Heavy metal poisoning
What Are the Symptoms of a Neurogenic Bladder?
If you have a neurogenic bladder, then you will likely have difficulties controlling your urination. You may also have:
- A weak flow of urine
- Urinary retention
- Frequent urination (the need to urinate eight or more times a day)
- Urinary urgency (a sudden urge to urinate immediately)
- A urinary tract infection
How Is Neurogenic Bladder Treated?
The following treatments may be used to treat a neurogenic bladder:
- Clean intermittent catheterization (CIC): Catheters are used to drain the urine from the bladder.
- Drugs: Bladder function can be improved using medication. Different medications will be used depending on whether you have an underactive or overactive bladder or both.
- Botox® injections: Botox injections can be used either in the bladder or urinary sphincters.
- Bladder augmentation: This surgical procedure removes part of the intestine and attaches it to the walls of the bladder. This reduces the internal pressure in the bladder, increasing its ability to store urine.
- Urostomy: A surgeon creates a new tube from a piece of intestine that allows your kidneys to drain and urine to exit the body through the abdomen.
- Kegel exercises: These exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, helping to suppress bladder contractions that are common with urine urgency.
- Lifestyle changes: You should avoid foods and beverages that irritate the bladder. These include caffeinated drinks like coffee, carbonated beverages, spicy foods, and citrus fruit. Losing weight can ease the stress on the bladder. A behavioral treatment called delayed voiding may help some people with urine control.
Our expert urologists can create a customized treatment plan to restore your normal bladder function and relieve your symptoms. Call or book an appointment online with Urology of Greater Atlanta to learn more about the many treatments available.