Bladder Spasms & MS: What you need to know

MS can cause bladder spasms, but fortunately there are management and treatment options so that you can feel better including making positive lifestyle changes.

Image of toilet

Overview

MS bladder spasms are related to urinary incontinence. MS can cause a mismatch of signals between the brain and spinal cord and this can affect your bladder function. This can lead to the bladder randomly going into spasm.

A spasm is when the bladder shrinks involuntarily resulting in incontinence. It feels like you are letting go of the urine, but without having any control over the contraction.

Not all bladder problems are caused by MS, other causes include caffeine and alcohol consumption, pregnancy and childbirth, an enlarged prostate in men, and urinary tract infections.

Bladder Problems in MS

Bladder problems are common in people with MS. An overactive (spastic) bladder can’t hold the normal amount of urine, while some bladders do not empty properly.

Symptoms can include:

  • Incontinence 

  • Urgency of urination

  • Hesitancy in starting urination

  • Not being able to empty the bladder completely

  • Frequent urination during the night

Bladder and overall health

Bladder problems can be embarrassing to talk about, but it’s important that you tell your doctor because healthy bladder function is an essential part of your overall health.

A healthy bladder is vital for:

✔ The best quality of life

✔ Your independence

✔ Your kidney health

✔ Preventing infection

✔ Your self-confidence 

Untreated bladder problems can cause:

  • Kidney stones and repeated urinary tract infections

  • Other MS symptoms, such as spasticity, to worsen

  • Infections in the blood (urosepsis) 

Bladder management and treatment options

It will help you mentally as well as physically to take back control by using a combination of easy lifestyle changes which have been proven to be successful, along with physical therapy and medication, if you need it.

Lifestyle changes may include:

✔ Making sure you have an adequate daily fluid intake. 

Try to drink at least 1.5 liters of fluid a day, or about six to eight glasses. 

✔ Making changes to your diet that help to improve other MS symptoms at the same time.

Avoid food and drink that irritates your bladder. Food and drink to reduce or cut out includes:

  • Caffeinated drinks

  • Alcohol

  • Spicy food

  • Acidic fruit juices

✔ Using relaxation techniques to destress, such as meditation

✔ Contacting a mental health provider for additional support if you are suffering from depression. The mind-body connection is very powerful.

✔ Maintaining a healthy weight through a plan which includes both diet and exercise. Being overweight can increase the pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, leading to stress incontinence where urine leaks out due to the pressure. 

✔ Improving muscle control using pelvic floor physical therapy and biofeedback and daily home exercises.

While treatment may include:

  • Bladder training

  • Medication

  • Bladder injections using Botox

  • Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) 

  • Intermittent self-catheterization (ISC) 

Thankfully, positive lifestyle changes and successful treatments can stop bladder spasms from impacting your daily life. Take a look at our OMS community with people you can connect to for support and guidance, to help you to stay motivated as you make these changes. 

What are the next steps?

If it seems like there is too much information and you don’t know where to start, read through our next steps – we can help you.