Bladder Spasms

Symptoms And Treatment Of Bladder Spasms

We hear about bladder spasms all the time on television. Not during regular programming, or even on the so-called hospital shows, but in commercials. In these commercials bladder spasms are usually referred to as overactive bladder, though there are other types of bladder spasms as well. Overactive bladder however is the condition affecting most people, usually women, and usually the elderly.

The Bladder Sac Is A Muscle - Why do we have bladder spasms? First of all, muscles have spasms. We have muscle spasms in our back, or in our arms and legs, and since the bladder is a muscle, we can have spasms there as well. One problems is, while a spasm in the back can be painful, a spasm in a bladder that is full, can not only be painful, but a cause for embarrassment as well. The bladder is a part of the urinary tract, which consists of the kidneys, ureters, and the bladder itself, and functions to remove certain wastes from our body. In the normal course of events, the bladder, a muscular sac, expands as it fills with urine. When it approaches fullness, nerve endings send a signal to the brain telling the brain that it's time to empty. When we urinate, the muscle contracts to force the urine out of the body.

If we attempt to hold urine in the bladder too long, spasms may occur, but these are not symptomatic of any underlying problem or disease. At other times however, bladder spasms may occur even if the bladder isn't full, and the need to urinate can become quite strong. When this condition becomes chronic we call it overactive bladder, or incontinence.

Causes - Bladder spasms can result from a number of conditions. What we eat can contribute to bladder spasms, though food will not usually be a direct cause. Acidic foods, such as citrus, tomatoes, and pickled foods, caffeine beverages, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners can irritate the lining of the bladder, as can chocolate, and cause spasms. Usually when food is involved, the bladder may have a problem to begin with, and the food or beverage simply tips things over the edge. Surgery is another cause, especially any surgery which has involved the bladder, or the pelvic muscles. Any lower abdominal surgery, or any surgery where a catheter has come into play can result in bladder spasms. Incontinence frequently occurs in women following a Cesarean section or a hysterectomy. Treatments for prostate cancer or any disorder of the prostate may cause bladder spasms in men.

Treatment - As far as treatment is concerned, there are a number of approaches. Surgery, or an invasive procedure of any kind, is rather rare, but at times insertion of an electrical implant to help control actions of the bladder muscle may be called for. Taking medication designed to help relax the bladder muscle is a more common approach. A person with a bladder disorder may be encouraged to take a regimen of pelvic exercise, usually practiced while on one's back, to strengthen the bladder as well as the pelvic muscles. As the muscles are strengthened, spasms are likely to be less severe, and will tend to occur much less frequently.

Biofeedback - Another approach is behavior training, also called timed training. The principles of biofeedback come into play here, as the patient learns to urinate at timed intervals, say 1 to 2 hours at a time, and once the situation is under control, to gradually increase the time between urination. This approach is often quite effective, and even more effective when done in combination with exercise or medication. Dietary changes which include avoidance of some of the food items mentioned above can also play a useful role in treatment.


Bladder spasms, while not usually serious, and certainly not life-threatening, can be very disruptive to one's lifestyle. Aside from causing discomfort, and at times severe pain, the spasms can also result in embarrassing situations. Fortunately treatment is usually close at hand.