Neurogenic bladder is a problem in which a person lacks bladder control due to a brain, spinal cord, or nerve condition.
Several muscles and nerves must work together for your bladder to hold urine until you are ready to empty it. Nerve messages go back and forth between the brain and the muscles that control bladder emptying. If these nerves are damaged by illness or injury, the muscles may not be able to tighten or relax at the right time.
Disorders of the central nervous system commonly cause neurogenic bladder. These can include:
Damage or disorders of the nerves that supply the bladder can also cause this condition. These can include:
The symptoms depend on the cause. They often include symptoms of urinary incontinence.
Symptoms of overactive bladder:
Symptoms of underactive bladder:
Medications may help manage your symptoms. Your doctor may recommend:
Your doctor may refer you to someone who has been trained to help people manage bladder problems. Skills or techniques you may learn include:
Learn to recognize the symptoms of urinary infections (UTIs), such as burning when you urinate, fever, low back pain on one side, and a more frequent need to urinate. Cranberry tablets may help prevent UTIs.
Some people may need to use a urinary catheter. This is a thin tube that is inserted into your bladder.
Sometimes surgery is needed. Surgeries for neurogenic bladder include:
If you are having urinary incontinence, organizations are available for further information and support.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you:
Wein AJ, Dmochowski RR. Neuromuscular dysfunction of the lower urinary tract. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Novick AC, et al., eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 65.
Review Date: 5/28/2014
Reviewed By: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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