The best way to describe a bladder spasm is by first looking at what a spasm is. A spasm itself is when a muscle squeezes suddenly and involuntarily. If anyone has ever experienced a quick, painless, muscle twitch it is similar to a spasm except there is no pain. A muscle spasm combines the involuntary movement with pain. Bladder spasms, also known as “detrusor contractions” or “detrusor instability”, occur when the bladder muscle, without warning, squeezes, creating an urgent need to urinate, along with a painful, cramping feeling. Sometimes it’s described as a burning sensation. Women who have experienced bladder spasms compare them to severe menstrual cramps or even the pain of labor in childbirth. Due to it’s suddenness, incontinence often occurs. Consequently there is frequent urine leakage as the spasm forces urine from the bladder. In addition to the leakage, an overactive bladder develops with those who experience bladder spasms creating a constant need to urinate. Bladder spasms can disrupt one’s entire lifestyle, necessitating changes in daily routines to deal with the leakage and frequent urge to urinate, along with finding ways to deal with the pain involved.
What causes bladder spasms and who develops them? They are not age specific as they can occur across all age spans, causing incontinence among children and adults both. Animals can also experience bladder spasms. They are more likely to develop in the elderly, menopausal women, pregnant women or those who recently gave birth, those who have urinary tract infections, and in one who has had recent lower abdominal or pelvic surgery. Also, some people with nerve damage or neurological disorders experience bladder spasms as well.
Causes include those listed in people who are more prone to develop bladder spasms, along with more simple, common reasons such as changes in diet or medications and changes in the blood supply to the bladder. Cystitis, catheter use, and weak pelvic muscles commonly experienced by women after natural childbirth also can cause bladder spasms. Nerve damage from diabetes, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, back surgery or back problems such as spinal stenosis, and other neurological problems can create conditions for bladder spasms.
What can be done to treat bladder spasms? When the cause is the result of a weakened pelvic due to childbirth, exercises to strengthen the area, known as “Kegel” exercises are very helpful. Along with the exercises, timed voiding, or bladder training, with trips to the bathroom arranged at specific timed intervals, as been found to be helpful. The time can be extended as the bladder accommodates itself to each interval. This is especially useful with children. If medications such as diuretics are the cause, a change in medication or dosage level may cause bladder spasms to cease. Certain foods that irritate the bladder, that contribute to spasms, can be eliminated from the diet. These usually include very spicy foods or condiments. Citrus foods/drinks and caffeine are also contributors and need to be avoided. Electrical stimulation and medications can also be helpful in controlling bladder spasms.
If you experience the symptoms of bladder spasms, such as frequent urination, incontinence, and painful cramping or other pain along with this, it is best to see a healthcare practitioner. Tests can be ran for disease related causes, and your healthcare provider can help you to manage and control the bladder spasms to enable you to get back to a more reasonable routine in your life. Worrying about urine leakage and the need to be near a bathroom always can be a thing of the past when bladder spasms can be brought under control.