Because of the impact that multiple sclerosis has on the central nervous system, particularly in functions of the lower parts of the body, neurogenic bladder is common for MS patients — with 80 percent of patients complaining of bladder dysfunction. Issues with the bladder can be caused by urinary tract infections (UTI), but when a UTI is ruled out neurogenic bladder is usually found to be the cause of either overactive (spastic or hyper-reflexive) or underactive (flaccid or hypotonic) bladder conditions.
Neurogenic bladder occurs when transmissions between the brain and the bladder are delayed or interrupted. While some people are born with neurogenic bladder issues, in the case of MS patients the disease’s effect on the brain through the development of lesions leads to progressively worsening body functions quite often in the lower extremities. As bladder function degrades due to neurogenic bladder, patients can experience frequent, painful or urgent urination, urinary incontinence, and urinary retention. Neurogenic bladder can also contribute to the development of UTIs mostly caused by urinary retention.
Treating Neurogenic Bladder in Multiple Sclerosis
In many cases physicians seek to treat neurogenic bladder in MS through the use of bladder training. This tends to be the least invasive approach to addressing the issue and helps patients manage their bladder dysfunction by scheduling bathroom visits and controlling diet and fluid intake. If urinary retention is an issue, doctors might use an ultrasound sonocystography to help gain a better understanding of how much urine is being retained. If the patient cannot effectively empty the bladder, catheterization may also be used.
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