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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

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Bladder Spasms

Nervous System Disorders That Lead to Bladder Spasms

The feeling you get when you need to empty your bladder is normally an involuntary response. The brain signals the bladder muscle when it is time to tighten (contract) and release urine. However, certain nervous system disorders cause damage to the nerves that send signals between the brain and the bladder. When this happens, the bladder does not work properly. "Neurogenic bladder" is the general term for bladder problems due to nerve damage.

Nervous system disorders and injury that can cause bladder spasms include:

  • Brain tumor
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Herpes zoster infection that affects the nerves in the sacrum
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple system atrophy (Shy-Drager syndrome)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke that has caused brain damage
  • Diabetic neuropathy (when the nerves are damaged by longstanding diabetes)

 

Surgery That Leads to Bladder Spasms

Surgery to the lower abdominal area may weaken the bladder or pelvic floor muscles, or cause damage to the nerves that control the bladder. Bladder spasms may occur following certain surgeries, including:

  • Bladder surgery (a common cause of bladder spasms in both children and adults)
  • Cesarean section
  • Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus, or womb, and sometimes the surrounding female organs, including the ovaries and fallopian tubes.)
  • Prostatectomy (prostate removal)
  • Other lower abdominal surgery

 

Other Causes of Bladder Spasms

Some medications may cause bladder spasms as a side effect. Medications that commonly cause bladder spasms include:

  • Bethanechol (urecholine)  
  • A chemotherapy drug called Valrubicin
  • Medicines called diuretics, (such as Lasix) which help the body remove excess water

What you eat or drink can sometimes bother a fragile bladder and cause it to go into a spasm. This is especially true in patients who have a condition called interstitial cystitis.

Spicy, acidic, or citrusy foods and the chemicals in certain preservatives and food additives may irritate the lining of the bladder. Such products include:

  • Alcohol
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Caffeinated beverages such as soda, coffee, and tea
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits and drinks, such as oranges and orange juice
  • Pickled foods
  • Tomatoes

 

Treatment of Bladder Spasms

How your doctor treats your bladder spasms depends on what exactly is causing your painful symptoms. But in general, therapy may involve one or more of the following treatments. A combination of treatments often works best.

Change in diet. This may help prevent bladder pain if certain foods and beverages are the culprit behind your spasms. Keeping a food diary, which tracks your meals and your symptoms, can be helpful.

Timed voiding. This involves timed trips to the bathroom to urinate, usually every 1.5 to 2 hours. Timed voiding is especially helpful for children. As the bladder spasms get better and fewer wetting accidents occur, you can extend the time between trips to the bathroom.

WebMD Medical Reference

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