Bladder spasms - everything you need to know

If you’re living with a catheter, you may have experienced bladder spasms before. Read on below to find out more about bladder spasms, what they feel like and actions you can take TODAY to make them more manageable.

What are bladder spasms?

A spasm can be defined as the sudden, involuntary squeezing of a muscle. Bladder spasms are also known as detrusor contractions. Don’t be put off by the word ‘detrusor’ – it’s an unusual one, we know! The detrusor muscle is simply the name of the muscle found inside the walls of the bladder. When this muscle involuntarily contracts, it can cause a sudden urge to pass urine. This can result in urinary leakage, which can understandably be very distressing for the individual and have a significant impact on their quality of life. The leakage of urine under these circumstances is also referred to as urge incontinence or having an overactive bladder.

What do bladder spasms feel like?

According to the NHS, bladder spasms are comparable to stomach cramps. They can be quite uncomfortable.

Who gets bladder spasms?

Whilst anyone can be affected (both male and female), there are some people who are more likely to be affected by bladder spasms

- Elderly
- Going through the menopause
- Diabetic
- Obese
- Pregnant or recently given birth
- Those with urinary tract infections
- Living with an indwelling catheter (urethral or suprapubic)
- Had lower abdominal or pelvic surgery
- Damage to the bladder muscle (from disease or injury)
- Neurological disease (for example, stroke, MS or spinal cord injury)

How to stop bladder spasms naturally

Completing pelvic floor exercises regularly can help to reduce the impact of bladder spasms. It may also be necessary to take a look at your fluid intake and diet! Bladder spasms can be triggered by spicy foods, acidic foods and drinks such as coffee.

Sometimes, further measures may be required. Medication can be prescribed to help with bladder spasms. Even Botox has been known to help! A TENS machine (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is an option whicah can be considered. Sacral nerve stimulation is another option which can bring benefits. In rare cases, surgery may be required.

If bladder spasms are affecting your quality of life, don't hesitate to discuss this with your GP.


Catheter bladder spasms

Irritation from a urinary catheter can cause bladder spasms. They can sometimes occur with a newly fitted catheter but this should reduce over 1-2 days after it's inserted. Bladder spasms can be experienced with urethral and suprapubic catheters. 

Effective catheter fixation to reduce irritation

Effective fixation is so important! By securing your catheter in place, you can limit any pulling on the catheter which could cause rubbing and soreness inside your urethra. Shop Optimum provides a wide range of accessories for holding your catheter in place, so you're sure to find the perfect product to suit you.

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