Neurogenic Bladder

Neurogenic bladder is a condition that causes problems with bladder control.

Symptoms of neurogenic bladder

People with this condition might:

  • Urinate small amounts more often than usual
  • Have problems starting to urinate or emptying their bladder
  • Lose bladder control
  • Have problems knowing if their bladder is full

Diagnosis of Neurogenic Bladder

Are there tests for neurogenic bladder?  Yes.  Your doctor or nurse will ask about your symptoms and do an exam.  He or she might also ask you to keep a diary of your urinary habits, such as how often you empty your bladder.

For other tests, your doctor will likely refer you to another doctor who specializes in bladder problems, such as the Urologists at Mercy Urology.  Tests you might need include:

  • A urine test
  • A blood test
  • Bladder function tests – For these tests, the doctors puts a thin tube (called a “catheter”) into your urethra and fills your bladder with fluid. He or she measures how much your bladder can hold.   You will then release the fluid so the doctor can see if your bladder can empty all the way.
  • Imaging tests – These tests create a picture of the inside of the body and can include X-rays, a CT scan, and an MRI.

Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better?

  • Bladder retraining – To do this, you go to the bathroom at scheduled times. For instance, you might decide that you will go every hour.  You would make yourself go every hour, even if you didn’t feel like you needed to.  And you would try to wait until a whole hour had passed if you needed to go sooner.  Then, once you got used to going every hour, you would increase the amount of time you waited in between bathroom visits.  Over time, you might be able to “retrain” your bladder to wait 3 or 4 hours between bathroom visits.
  • Pelvic muscle exercises – These exercises strengthen the muscles that control the flow of urine. These exercises can help, but people often do them wrong.  Ask your doctor or nurse how to do them right.

Should I see a doctor or nurse?

See your doctor right away if:

  • You have new loss of bladder control, especially if you also have back pain or leg weakness.
  • You have neurogenic bladder and get symptoms of a urinary tract infection (also called a “UTI”), which include:
    • Pain or a burning feeling when you urinate
    • The need to urinate often
    • The need to urinate right away or in a hurry
    • Blood in the urine
    • Fever

Treatment of Neurogenic Bladder

  • Prescription medicines – Some of these medicines relax the bladder, such as oxybutynin (brand name: Ditropan) or propantheline (brand name: Pro-Banthine).  Others can make certain nerves more active, such as bethancehol (brand name:  Urecholine).  You might also need antibiotics if you get a UTI.
  • Bladder catheter – If you cannot empty your bladder completely, you may need to put a thin, flexible tube (called a “catheter”) in your urethra a few times a day. The catheter helps you empty your bladder and avoid infection and other problems.  In rare cases, a permanent catheter is needed.

If your problems are more serious and medicine and a catheter are not helpful enough, you might need other treatments to control your bladder.  These can include nerve stimulators, botulinum toxin (Botox) injections and surgery.