Overactive Bladder

What is Overactive Bladder and Urge Incontinence?

Overactive bladder (OAB) is the term that has been introduced to encompass patients with frequent urination, urgency (rushing to the bathroom), and nocturia (trips to the bathroom at night). Patients may also have urge incontinence, which is the loss or leakage of urine that is associated with a sense of urinary urgency. Patients often say “when I gotta go, I gotta go…and I don’t quite make it to the bathroom.” All of these conditions are all related.

Urge incontinence and OAB are extremely common — they are estimated to affect over 20 million people in the United States!! Patients of all ages present with this problem, and it affects both men and women. The exact cause of these disorders is unknown, although it is thought that the bladder becomes overactive and spasms during filling with urine. Although benign, OAB can significantly impact quality of life. Fortunately, there are many successful treatment options that include both non-surgical and surgical approaches.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Bladder Retraining and dietary modification
Just like training other muscles, you can retrain your bladder muscle. Bladder retraining is a program that changes the way you urinate to help decrease the problems of urgency, frequency, and incontinence. In addition, dietary changes can be quite helpful as there are many foods and beverages that worsen OAB. Together, these steps can be very effective.

Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises are designed to strengthen the pelvic muscles. Specific types of exercises can be helpful to improve OAB. Specialized physicians and therapists can teach patients proper technique and improve their success with pelvic floor exercise therapy.

There are a variety of medications that are helpful in treating OAB as well.

Surgical Treatments and Procedures

Sacral Neuromodulation
Sacral neuromodulation is minor procedure in which a nerve stimulator is placed to help control the nerves to the bladder. This technique is very successful for OAB. More information is available in our section about procedures.

Botulinum Toxin Injection
Botox injection is another minor procedure that is very successful in treating overactive bladder. This procedure involves injection of botox medicine into the bladder muscle using a camera. More information is available in our section about procedures.

Tibial Nerve Stimulation
Tibial nerve stimulation works much the same way as sacral neuromodulation. However, rather than stimulate nerves with an implantable nerve stimulator, the nerves are stimulated in weekly clinic visits. More information is available in our section about procedures.