Having a neurological condition presents many challenges, but one that few people likely think about until they are dealing with it is how the condition may affect your ability to use the restroom. Like many organs, the bladder is controlled by nerves that connect to your brain and spinal cord. When these functions are challenged due to a neurological condition, it can cause a person to have a neurogenic bladder.
What is Neurogenic Bladder?
Neurogenic bladder happens when there is a lack of bladder control due to a brain, spinal cord or nerve problem. Typically, the bladder has two functions – storing urine, and removing it from the body. These functions are controlled by communication in the spinal cord and brain. When a person’s nerves, brain or spinal cord become injured, the way they communicate with the bladder can become compromised.
There are two types of neurogenic bladder: the bladder can become overactive (spastic or hyper-reflexive), or under-active (flaccid or hypotonic). With an overactive bladder, patients experience strong and frequent urges to use the bathroom, and sometimes have trouble making it in time, resulting in urinary incontinence. In an under-active bladder, the sphincter muscles may not work correctly and may stay tight when you are trying to empty your bladder, resulting in urinary retention (producing only a small amount of urine) or obstructive bladder (when you are unable to empty your bladder at all). In either case, treatment is available.
What Causes It
Neurogenic bladder can be caused by a number of conditions. Some children are born with neurogenic bladder. Children born with spina bifida (when the fetus’ spine does not completely develop during the first month of pregnancy), sacral agenesis (when lower parts of the spine are missing), or cerebral palsy (a disorder that weakens a person’s ability to control body movement and posture) all may suffer from neurogenic bladder due to their conditions. Other medical conditions that may cause neurogenic bladder are Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), spinal cord injury, stroke, or central nervous system tumors.
Luckily, there are many treatment options for neurogenic bladder. Treatments vary depending on whether you have overactive bladder or urinary retention. To learn about treatments for these conditions, click through the links below.
A neurogenic bladder doesn’t have to limit your life. Don’t be afraid to explore your options and find a treatment that works for you.
Do you have a neurogenic bladder? Tell us about your experience in the comments below – we’d love to hear about treatment options that have worked for you!