What to do about bladder spasms?

Bladder spasms can be very painful and happen when your bladder contracts without any prior warning. A strong bladder spasm will likely leave you with an extreme urge to go to the loo and can even cause you to leak urine involuntarily.

What causes them?

Your bladder spasms can be caused by a multitude of reasons, for example, something as simple as your diet or a new medication you are currently taking. They might also be caused by an infection in your urinary tract or recent bladder surgery. If you suffer from nerve or muscle damage you might also experience bladder spasms. As you can see, there are many causes for your bladder spasms, which is why it’s so important for you to speak to your GP or continence nurse about them.

What can you do about them?

How your bladder spasms are treated fully depends on what’s causing them in the first place. Generally speaking, however, treatment will likely involve one or more of the following options, often in combination:

Botox

Botox injections into the bladder wall have shown to reduce bladder spasms caused by nerve issues in both adults and children. This is because Botox stops your nerves from releasing the chemicals that tell your bladder muscles to contract.

Change in diet

Simple changes to your diet can have a great positive effect on your bladder spasms as certain foods are known to be triggers. Some of the most well-known trigger foods and drinks include citrus fruits, fruit juice, tomatoes, spicy foods, sugar and artificial sugars, carbonated drinks, chocolate, and even tea. Keeping a food diary, in which you can track the meals you’ve had as well as your symptoms can be very helpful to identify foods and drinks that trigger your spasms.

Bladder training

Bladder training or timed voiding can be great for treating bladder spasms, especially in children. How does it work? It involves you going to the toilet in timed intervals, usually every 1.5 to 2 hours during the day. As time goes on, your bladder spasms should improve, and any accidents will get less. Once that happens, you can extend the time between your trips to the loo further and further.

Kegels

Pelvic floor exercises are a great form of physical exercise to help with bladder control and bladder spasms, especially if they’re caused by urge or stress incontinence. To do a Kegel, squeeze the muscles you’d usually use to stop the flow of urine or stop yourself from passing wind and let go again. Make sure you’re exercising the correct muscles, however, as squeezing the wrong ones might make your symptoms worse. We have a great guide on how to do pelvic floor exercises for you right here!

Medication

Your GP might be able to prescribe you medication that will help with your bladder spasms. Most commonly, you’ll be prescribed anticholinergics, antispasmodics, or antimuscarinics. However, tricyclic antidepressants can also be used to relax the bladder. Most of these come with very light and tolerable side effects including constipation, dry mouth, pupil dilation, and light sensitivity. If you are experiencing side effects, talk to your GP about it and they can prescribe you an alternative medicine. If your bladder spasms are caused by an indwelling urinary catheter, you might be prescribed pain medication or sedatives. Although they can be helpful, they often don’t take away all the discomfort.

TENS

With TENS, small patches are attached to your skin that send mild electrical impulses to your bladder. These signals will increase the blood flow to your bladder which makes the muscle stronger and, in turn, reduces your spasms and any leakage you were experiencing.

Inter-Stim

This is an implant that’s placed under your skin and delivers gentle electrical pulses to the bladder at timed intervals. This is generally only recommended if your bladder spasms are very severe, and any other treatments haven’t shown any improvement to your symptoms.