Neurogenic bladder is a condition where the bladder is unable to completely empty as a result of a neurological disorder. Neurogenic bladder occurs when there is a disease in the part of the central nervous system that controls the functions of the bladder.
Neurogenic Bladder Causes
In order to hold urine in the bladder, nerves and muscles in your body need to work together. Nerves allow the brain and the bladder to communicate by sending messages back and forth, determining whether the kegel muscles surrounding the bladder should contract or not. If the nerves that allow the bladder and the brain to communicate get damaged, the muscles surrounding the bladder will not be able to tighten and relax at the right time, which can cause overflow incontinence.
There are a number of common and uncommon disorders that can cause neurogenic bladder. Stroke, Alzheimer’s and spinal injury are common causes as they affect the central nervous system. Similar to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease can cause neurogenic bladder as it damages the central nervous system.
Another cause may be related to damaged peripheral nerves, which can be caused by vitamin deficiencies, alcoholic disorders and diabetic neuropathy. Peripheral nerves are intricate pathways and routes in the body that allow information to be passed throughout the body. These nerves stem from the trunk of the body by the spinal cord and branch out extensively in multiple different directions.
Neurogenic Bladder Symptoms
Depending on the neurological problem, neurogenic bladder control can be split into two categories: overactive bladder and under active bladder. If the urinary sphincter has been damaged, separate symptoms may be experienced, but generally the symptoms for neurogenic bladder are as follows:
- Needing to urinate in small frequently and in small amounts
- The inability to fully empty the bladder of urine
- The general loss of bladder control (urinary stress incontinence)
Under active Bladder
- Bladder leaks due to it becoming overly full
- The inability to tell when the bladder is full
- Problems emptying the bladder of urine
Neurogenic Bladder Treatment
Your doctor will be able to help you find the best treatment based on the cause of the problem and the severity of the problem. Your doctor might offer you a course of medication that will attempt to relax your bladder, if the problem you’re experiencing is overactive bladder.
If you have an under active bladder, your doctor may offer you medication that will try to stimulate certain nerves that will help to make the bladder more active. You may also be able to take medication if you have contracted a urinary infection due to neurogenic bladder; the most likely form of medication for this would be antibiotics.
It is also likely that you will be referred to a medical health professional who will teach you a range of kegel exercises. Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor and are often used to help women with weak pelvic floor muscles, experiencing incontinence.
Knowing if you have a urinary infection
The first and most obvious sign that you have a urinary infection is that you will need to go to the toilet more frequently. You will also notice a mild or strong burning sensation during urination. Some patients experience lower back pain and others come down with a fever.
Needing a catheter
A catheter is a thin plastic tube inserted into the bladder. It is common with Multiple Sclerosis patients, and it needs to be inserted 5-7 time daily in order to stop bladder leakage.
Incontinence and support groups
Not being able to control the functions of the bladder can be a seriously mentally scaring problem. Incontinence can cause public humiliation, which can lead to psychological disorders such as acrophobia. For patients needing help coping with these issues support groups are run, helping people to cope, resolve and improve individual issues.
When should you contact a medical professional?
You should contact a health provider as soon as you:
- Cannot fully go to the toilet
- Need to urine in small amounts, frequently
- Have possible signs of a bladder infection (burning sensation and pain)
There are some secondary problems related to having a neurogenic bladder that can cause serious complication sand urinary retention. Some of these are listed below:
- Constant chronic leakage can cause skin sores and irritation
- Kidney damage can incur from having a constantly overfilled bladder
- Different types of urinary tract infections
- Psychological effects such as agoraphobia