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What Are the Causes of Bladder Spasms?

A cutaway of a female body showing the bladder in dark pink.
The human urinary tract, including the bladder in pink at the bottom.
A urinary catheter, which can cause bladder spasms.
Patients who require a catheter are at an increased risk for bladder spasms.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Common causes of bladder spasms include infection, surgery, nervous system diseases, and diet or medications. Patients with bladder spasms experience contractions, as though they need to urinate, at random intervals. The spasms can be painful, and may also force the patient to void, leading to incontinence. Treatments are available to help people manage the condition. Patients may need to see a urologist to get access to the full range of treatments.

Severe urinary tract infections can cause bladder spasms, especially in patients with a history of infections in the bladder and urethra. People may also experience painful urination and can have trouble with urinary continence. A recent history of pelvic surgery or trauma can be another cause, as can damage to the nerves connected to the bladder. People with neurological diseases and congenital nervous system conditions sometimes have bladder spasms.

In pregnancy, some women have bladder spasms because of pressure on the bladder and surrounding structures. Another risk factor can be certain medications with spasms as a side effect. Likewise, some foods appear to irritate the bladder and may cause it to contract, particularly spicy foods. Catheterization, where a care provider inserts a tube into the bladder for drainage, is another potential cause. Prolonged catheter use may cause infections and random contractions in the bladder, although oddly enough, using a catheter temporarily can also be a treatment for bladder spasms.

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People who notice a sudden onset of bladder spasms may want to consider any recent events or lifestyle changes to see if they provide an explanation for the problem. If a patient has just started a new medication or is undergoing treatment for a urinary tract infection, he should tell the doctor and get an examination.

When a patient goes to the doctor for bladder spasms, the doctor will conduct a diagnostic evaluation to find out why they are happening and develop a treatment plan. Medications are available to immediately treat the spasms by forcing the muscles to relax. People may experience benefits from making dietary changes, switching medications to address side effects, and scheduling trips to the bathroom to keep the bladder well-drained.

Sometimes, patients may need to consider more invasive treatment options. If the issue is misfiring nerves, electrical stimulation of the nerves may help stop the contractions. The doctor can install a temporary implant to see if it works, and may offer a surgery to implant a permanent device. Neurotomy, where a surgeon severs a damaged nerve to prevent it from sending signals, is another potential treatment for spasms linked with a neurological problem.

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