A neurogenic bladder is a medical condition that occurs when there is a dysfunction in the nerves that control the bladder. Normally, the nerves send signals between the brain, spinal cord, and bladder muscles, coordinating the process of filling and emptying the bladder. When these nerves are damaged or disrupted, the bladder’s ability to function properly is compromised.
There are two main types of neurogenic bladder:
- Overactive Neurogenic Bladder (Neurogenic Detrusor Overactivity): In this type, the nerves that control the bladder muscles become hyperactive, causing the bladder to contract involuntarily and frequently. This can lead to symptoms like frequent urination, urgency, and in some cases, urge incontinence (unintentional loss of urine due to sudden urges).
- Underactive Neurogenic Bladder (Atonic Bladder or Hypotonic Bladder): In this type, the nerves are unable to stimulate the bladder muscles effectively, leading to poor contraction and incomplete emptying of the bladder. People with an underactive neurogenic bladder may experience difficulty initiating urination, weak stream, incomplete emptying, and sometimes overflow incontinence (dribbling of urine due to bladder overfilling).
Neurogenic bladder can be caused by various conditions that affect the nervous system, including:
- Spinal Cord Injury: Trauma or damage to the spinal cord can interrupt nerve signals between the brain and the bladder.
- Multiple Sclerosis: This autoimmune disease affects the central nervous system, including the nerves that control the bladder.
- Spina Bifida: A congenital condition in which the spinal column does not close completely during development, leading to potential nerve issues.
- Stroke: A stroke can damage parts of the brain responsible for bladder control.
- Diabetes: Long-term diabetes can damage nerves (diabetic neuropathy) including those controlling the bladder.
- Parkinson’s Disease: This neurodegenerative disorder can affect the nerves that regulate bladder function.
Treatment for neurogenic bladder depends on the underlying cause and the type of bladder dysfunction. It can involve a combination of approaches:
- Medications: Depending on the type of neurogenic bladder, medications can be prescribed to relax overactive bladder muscles or stimulate underactive ones.
- Catheterization: For those with underactive bladders, intermittent catheterization might be necessary to ensure the bladder is emptied fully.
- Bladder Training: Behavioral techniques can help manage overactive bladder symptoms.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgical interventions might be considered to improve bladder function.
A urologist or a healthcare professional with expertise in neurogenic bladder management can provide appropriate diagnosis and treatment recommendations based on an individual’s specific condition and needs.