Neurogenic Bladder Causes, Risk Factors and Treatments

Neurogenic bladder, also known as neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction, occurs when a person lacks bladder control due to brain, spinal cord or nerve problems. If you are one of the millions of people who have a neurogenic bladder, you are in great hands at Coyle Institute. Our providers are extremely experienced in diagnosing and treating neurogenic bladder in ways that significantly improve the quality of life for those who experience this debilitating condition.

Understanding How Neurogenic Bladder Occurs

Several muscles and nerves must work together for the bladder to effectively hold urine until it is safe to be emptied. For some people, these muscles and nerves do not work properly, which can result in leaking urine, passing urine often, urine dribbles or urinary tract infections. Conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and Spina Bifida can affect the muscles and nerves causing neurogenic bladder. People who have had a stroke, spinal cord injury, major pelvic surgery, diabetes or other illnesses can also suffer from neurogenic bladder.  

When the appropriate muscles and nerves are unable to work together to support bladder control, the bladder may not empty or fill correctly. In cases of overactive bladder (OAB), muscles are overactive and thereby squeeze more often than normal and before the bladder is full of urine. Sometimes the sphincter muscles are not strong enough and allow urine to pass prematurely, which is incontinence. In other people, the bladder muscle may be underactive, meaning it will not squeeze when it is filled with urine and is unable to empty fully or at all. The sphincter muscles around the urethra may also work improperly, remaining tight when trying to empty the bladder. Keep in mind that some people can experience both overactive and underactive bladder.

Neurogenic Bladder Symptoms

If you experience the following symptoms, you may have neurogenic bladder:

  • Loss of feeling that the bladder is full
  • Dribbling urine
  • Urinary urgency and increased frequency
  • Small urine volume when voiding
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Kidney stones
  • Urinary tract infection

Although some of the symptoms can simply be brushed off as “normal” for your age or health history, it is important to investigate any symptoms of neurogenic bladder to determine its specific cause. Additionally, remember that if you have nerve or spinal cord conditions, diabetes, history of stroke or other brain injuries, you have a higher risk of developing neurogenic bladder. 

Diagnosing Neurogenic Bladder

Since neurogenic bladder involves both the nervous system and the bladder, providers at Coyle Institute may run a series of tests to determine the health of both. As a first step, talking about your symptoms and medical history with your provider is particularly important. Other diagnostic measures may include:

Treatment Options for Neurogenic Bladder

Treatments for neurogenic bladder are focused on improving quality of life. The goal of any treatment is to control symptoms and prevent kidney damage. Your provider at Coyle Institute will consider the following when assembling your treatment plan:

  • Your age, overall health and medical history
  • The cause of the nerve damage
  • Your symptoms
  • The severity of your symptoms
  • Your tolerance for certain medications, procedures or therapies
  • His/her expectations for the course of the condition

Lifestyle changes involved with treating neurogenic bladder may include scheduled voiding, limiting certain foods and drinks, double voiding, delayed voiding and pelvic floor exercises. Additionally, you may be prescribed OAB medications, Botox® or sacral neuromodulation therapy.

If you are experiencing neurogenic bladder symptoms, schedule a consultation with Coyle Institute by calling 850-637-8258.