Bladder Spasms: Signs, Causes, Treatments, & Prevention

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Bladder spasms are when the muscles of your bladder contract or tighten. These spasms often trigger an urge to urinate and a burning sensation when you release urine.

Bladder spasms are often used synonymously with “overactive bladder” (OAB). While these are two different conditions, they often happen to be related.

Spasms in your bladder may be a warning sign of urinary tract infection, interstitial cystitis, neurological disease, or simply drinking too much alcohol or caffeine.

Talking with your doctor about bladder spasms may be embarrassing, but it doesn’t have to be. I encourage you to speak frankly with your doctor about your situation, and I bet they will treat you with respect. The doctors here at PrimeHealth treat our patients with the utmost respect.

Keep reading to learn all about the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for bladder spasms.

What are the symptoms of bladder spasms?

What does a bladder spasm feel like? A bladder spasm feels like cramping or burning around your waist.

The symptoms of bladder spasms include:

  • Burning sensation when you urinate
  • Cloudy, red, or pink urine
  • Strong urine smell
  • Inability to pass much urine whenever you use the restroom
  • Pelvic pain
  • Leakage of urine before you reach the restroom

The symptoms that accompany bladder spasms will depend on the underlying condition.

If the cause of your bladder spasms is overactive bladder, you’ll probably wake up multiple times in the night to urinate. If the underlying cause is bladder stones, you’re going to experience a lot more pain than other underlying causes.

Go to your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms:

What causes bladder spasms?

There are several potential underlying causes of bladder spasms, including:

  • Overactive bladder
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Irritation from urinary catheter
  • Constipation
  • Impaired kidney function
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
  • Bladder stones
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, stroke, and multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Chronic stress
  • Recent surgery to the bladder or pelvic floor
  • Certain medications, like bethanechol (Urecholine), furosemide (Lasix), and valrubicin (Valstar)

Risk Factors

Not everyone is equally likely to experience this condition. Lifestyle and health factors can raise your likelihood of developing bladder spasms.

Though not considered direct causes of bladder spasms, here are five risk factors that make you more likely to experience bladder spasms, including:

4 Types Of Treatments for Bladder Spasms

Treatment of bladder spasms largely depends on the underlying cause. However, below are four common treatment options that conventional and integrative doctors consider when treating bladder spasms:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Exercise
  • Medications
  • Injection

How do I stop bladder spasms? You can stop bladder spasms by diagnosing and treating their root cause. Common bladder spasm treatments include antispasmodic medication, Kegels, dietary changes, bladder training, and general stress relief.

Lifestyle Changes

Altering your habits and lifestyle may decrease or eliminate your bladder spasms. Many of these changes are relatively simple to implement

Here are five lifestyle changes that may treat or prevent bladder spasms:

  • Change your fluid intake. See if your bladder spasms go away when you drink different amounts of fluid, or if you drink at different times in the day.
  • Alter your diet. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, citrus, tomatoes, pickled foods, and artificial sweeteners, which some people find can trigger their bladder spasms.
  • Keep a food diary while tracking symptoms. Track what you eat and when you experience bladder spasms. See if bladder spasms follow any specific dietary trigger.
  • Train your bladder. Go to the restroom at timed intervals. This trains your bladder to fill more completely, decreasing your urgent need to run to the bathroom. Also called “timed voiding,” bladder training is a type of biofeedback that trains your mind to better control your body.
  • Reduce your stress. Stress can trigger hundreds of conditions, including bladder spasms. Spend time outside, reduce time on technology, or practice meditation to reduce stress and lower your risk of stress incontinence and bladder spasms.

​​According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, changes in diet do not reduce the incidence of urinary incontinence. The NIDDK likely says this because no change in diet works for everyone. Bladder spasms need to be treated on an individual basis.

Exercise

Pelvic floor exercises (including the popular Kegel exercises) can treat bladder spasms triggered by bladder incontinence and even stress. Strengthening your pelvic floor is vital to bladder control.

To do a Kegel, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles like you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. This exercise might seem odd, but it strengthens all-important muscles and reduces your risk of bladder spasms.

In general, most forms of low-impact exercise should reduce your stress levels, which may reduce your chances of bladder spasms.

Medication

What is the treatment for bladder spasms? Treatment for bladder spasms often comes from the antimuscarinics group of medications, such as tolterodine (Detrol) or oxybutynin chloride (Ditropan). Antimuscarinics are a subtype of antispasmodics.

Side effects of antimuscarinics may include:

  • Pupil dilation
  • Light sensitivity
  • Dry mouth
  • Hot and flushed skin
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Fever (in rare cases)
  • Rashes (in severe cases)

Another group of medications used to treat bladder spasms is tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline (Elavil). These pharmaceuticals feature some nasty side effects, but they can be effective for some individuals.

My general medical advice: medication should almost never be your first answer to bladder spasms.

Electrical Stimulation

An electrical stimulation implant may be placed under your skin to deliver gentle electrical pulses to the bladder at regular intervals. This is an uncommon but sometimes effective treatment for some patients’ bladder spasms.

This electrical stimulation is also called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Bladder spasms are sometimes caused by nervous system dysfunction that leads to bladder control problems. TENS targets the nervous system to try and fix the dysfunction.

If you experience severe bladder spasms and bladder incontinence that other treatments can’t fix, your doctor may turn to TENS. Don’t worry; it sounds wilder than it actually is.

Injection

A doctor may inject botulinum toxin type A (Botox) into your bladder wall, strengthening your bladder muscles. This may treat or at least reduce bladder spasms.

Natural Prevention For Bladder Spasms

To prevent bladder spasms, you can live a healthy lifestyle and avoid triggers for the underlying causes of bladder spasms. Here are a few tips for maintaining your quality of life and your continence.

What can you do to prevent bladder spasms? To promote healthy bladder function and prevent bladder spasms, follow these guidelines:

  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce your daily stress
  • Exercise regularly.

Additionally, for women, wipe from front to back after defecating. This will avoid transferring bacteria to your urethra. Urethral bacteria is how urinary tract infections (UTIs) happen.

For both men and women, urinate after sex to flush out any bacteria trapped in your urethra. This will help to avoid any UTIs that may trigger bladder spasms.

Bladder Spasm Outlook

Bladder spasms may occur in a third of American adults. Thankfully, you can feel empowered, not embarrassed, as you seek treatment and improve your bladder health.

If you are experiencing bladder spasms, schedule a free phone consultation with a PrimeHealth specialist. We are experts in handling multiple potential causes of bladder spasms, including interstitial cystitis, constipation-predominant IBS, and Alzheimer’s disease.

We treat our patients with respect and dignity. Our individualized healthcare plans mean you are getting the best care for your situation. Bladder spasms are often curable. Our patients prove it.

Sources

  1. Jones, H. J., Huang, A. J., Subak, L. L., Brown, J. S., & Lee, K. A. (2016). Bladder symptoms in the early menopausal transition. Journal of women’s health, 25(5), 457-463.
  2. Kanter, G., Komesu, Y. M., Qaedan, F., Jeppson, P. C., Dunivan, G. C., Cichowski, S. B., & Rogers, R. G. (2016). Mindfulness-based stress reduction as a novel treatment for interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. International urogynecology journal, 27(11), 1705-1711.
  3. Huang, Y. C., & Chang, K. V. (2020). Kegel Exercises. StatPearls [Internet].
  4. Coolen, R. L., Groen, J., & Blok, B. F. M. (2019). Electrical stimulation in the treatment of bladder dysfunction: technology update. Medical Devices (Auckland, NZ), 12, 337.
  5. Mobley, D., & Baum, N. (2015). Smoking: Its impact on urologic health. Reviews in urology, 17(4), 220.

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