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Neurogenic Bladder

What Is Neurogenic Bladder?

Neurogenic bladder is a problem in which a person lacks bladder control due to a brain, spinal cord or nerve condition. If the muscles are overactive, the bladder tightens when it doesn’t need to. If they’re too lax, the bladder can leak. If they’re underactive, the bladder might not empty properly or completely. 

There are several possible causes, including: 

  • Chronic illness — Central nervous system disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer’s disease, can cause nerve damage affecting the bladder. 

  • Infection of the brain or spinal cord

  • Heavy metal poisoning

  • Spinal cord injury

  • Stroke

  • Pelvic surgery

  • Congenital conditions — Spina bifida and other disorders of the spinal cord can cause bladder problems.


While the symptoms of neurogenic bladder vary, symptoms can include:

  • Urinary tract infections — These bacterial infections of the urinary tract can cause a strong urge to urinate, pain while urinating, and discolored or strong-smelling urine.  

  • Kidney stones — Mineral and salt deposits develop in the kidneys and may cause pain when they pass.

  • Urinary incontinence (UI) — UI is the inability to control urine.

  • Overactive bladder — This is an urgent need to urinate, sometimes as many as eight times in 24 hours.

  • Underactive bladder — This prevents the bladder from emptying completely.

Treatment Options

Treatment for neurogenic bladder depends on the cause, severity and type of symptoms, and the patient’s age and overall health. Some commonly prescribed treatments are:

  • Lifestyle changes — Patients can control some symptoms by avoiding certain foods and drinks, establishing a bathroom schedule, or doing exercises to strengthen the muscles that control the bladder.

  • Medication

  • Nonsurgical treatments — These include catheterization, Botox injections in the bladder muscle and percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation.

  • Surgical treatments — Sacral neuromodulation, which involves the insertion of a “bladder pacemaker,” is the only inpatient surgical treatment for overactive bladder. There are several surgical treatments for underactive bladder, often involving tightening the sphincter or lower pelvic muscles.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of neurogenic bladder, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat neurogenic bladder.