Improving the quality of life for people with neurogenic bladder

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Monday, October 24, 2022
Improving the quality of life for people with neurogenic bladder
Temple Health urologists and neurologists work together to find the combination of treatments for better control of this condition.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Nervous system disorders often affect people in many ways.

One of the most common, but least talked about, impacts is on the urinary tract, in a condition called neurogenic bladder.

Every system in the human body runs on a constant conversation with the brain - a complex stream of signals and feedback.

"So when one little thing is just a little bit off, that can throw the entire system out of whack," says Temple Health neurologist Leah Croll.

Dr. Croll says almost any disorder affecting the brain or spinal cord can trigger neurogenic bladder.

"Essentially it's a fancy word for the nervous system and the urinary system are not communicating well," she says.

Dr. Croll says the most common conditions she sees are, "Multiple sclerosis, traumatic injuries of the brain and spinal cord, strokes, Parkinson's disease, dementias."

Temple Health urologist Dr. Michael Pontari says it can also happen with diabetes, which attacks nerves, and with herniated disks in the back.

"I always ask people - 'Hey, do you have any back pain and you have a numbness or tingling in the legs? And, the nerve that goes to the small toe is the same nerve that goes to the bladder," says Dr. Pontari.

The most common symptoms of neurogenic bladder include: Incontinence, frequency and urgency, urinary tract infections, and kidney stones.

The doctors say there are many treatment options, starting with modifying daily habits and activities, then medications, even Botox injections.

"It actually relaxes the smooth muscle of the bladder, and for about 6 or 8 months," says Dr. Pontari.

Stimulating the bladder's control nerve can also help.

"You can put a needle behind the ankle and stimulate for 30 minutes at a time, once a week for 12 weeks," notes Dr. Pontari.

Implanted nerve pacemakers can also help give patients a better quality of life. And even small improvements count.

"So they can go to a movie for two hours, go to a birthday party or something, they're very happy," he says.

While there are no cures for neurogenic bladder, it is possible to minimize symptoms.

But Dr. Croll says patients need the input of both a urologist and neurologist to get the best results.