If asked to name a symptom of spinal disk problems, most people would note back pain as a major one. But spinal disk problems can lead to other health issues besides trouble with a person's back. One of those issues is a condition called neurogenic bladder, which causes a variety of urinary problems.
Neurogenic bladder is a type of loss of bladder control. It is caused by damage to some part of the nervous system. The lack of control can be characterized by either overactive or underactive bladder activity. It can be caused by a birth defect like spina bifida or by a traumatic injury to the nervous system. Spinal disk problems can also cause neurogenic bladder.
A spinal disk is a soft round disk that acts as a cushion between the vertebrae in the back. The disks act as shock absorbers for the spine. One problem that can occur in spinal disks is that they can herniated or rupture. When this happens, the disk slips out of place. It can put pressure on parts of the body, including nerves that affect the bladder. A herniated spinal disk can trigger neurogenic bladder.
Symptoms of a herniated disk include pain in the lower back, pain in the backs of the legs and muscle weakness. In severe cases, a ruptured disk presses down on nerves that control the bladder. When this happens, a person will experience tingling or numbness in the genitals and a loss of bladder control. Urinary incontinence is the most common symptom of neurogenic bladder.
To diagnose neurogenic bladder that has been caused by spinal disk problems, a doctor will take a patient's history including charting where her back pain started, how it moved through her body and when her bladder problems began. An MRI or a CT scan can help a doctor view the herniated disk. Imaging tests can also allow a doctor to see the bladder and the rest of the urinary system.
For neurogenic bladder triggered by spinal disk problems, treatment often involves surgery. A surgeon can remove the part of the ruptured disk that is causing pressure on nerves. If that surgery does not successfully treat the symptoms of neurogenic bladder, then other treatment options include permanent stents, bladder augmentation and intermittent catheterization.