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Neurogenic Bladder—Adult

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Neurogenic Bladder—Adult

(Neurogenic Incontinence—Adult)


Neurogenic bladder is when a person lacks bladder control due to brain, spinal cord, or nerve problems.

Bladder With Nerves.

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Nerve signals go back and forth between the brain and the muscles that control the bladder. Neurogenic bladder is a problem with this process. It may be the result of:

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of neurogenic bladder are:

  • Nerve or spinal cord problems present since birth, such as spina bifida or spinal cord tumor
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Other causes of brain injury, such as infection or trauma


Symptoms of neurogenic bladder may include:

  • Problems controlling the flow of urine
  • Dribbling urine flow
  • Straining while passing urine
  • Not being able to pass enough urine
  • Overflow of urine from a full bladder
  • Pain when passing urine


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may need tests to rule out other possible causes.

Tests may include:

  • Urinalysis—to look for signs of infection or kidney changes
  • Blood tests—to look for signs of infection

Pictures may be taken of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder. This can be done with:

Tests may also be done to see how well the bladder is working. This can be done with:

  • Bladder function tests
  • Urodynamics to find out how well urine flows


The goal of treatment is to be able to empty the bladder on a routine basis. This should help to ease symptoms. The right plan will depend on a person's needs.

Treatment options may be:


People with diabetes may be able to lower the risk of neurogenic bladder by managing their condition.


Early steps may include:

  • Bladder training—set a schedule to empty the bladder.
  • Pelvic floor exercises—to make muscles around the bladder stronger
  • Painless electrical stimulation—to help retrain the bladder muscles.




  • Ginsberg DA, Boone TB, Cameron AP, Gousse A, Kaufman MR, Keays E, Kennelly MJ, Lemack GE, Rovner ES, Souter LH, Yang CC, Kraus SR. The AUA/SUFU Guideline on Adult Neurogenic Lower Urinary Tract Dysfunction: Diagnosis and Evaluation. J Urol. 2021 Nov;206(5):1097-1105.
  • Neurogenic bladder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/neurogenic-bladder.
  • Neurogenic bladder. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/neurogenic-bladder?article=9.
  • Romo PGB, Smith CP, Cox A, et al. Non-surgical urologic management of neurogenic bladder after spinal cord injury. World J Urol. 2018 Oct;36(10):1555-1568.


  • Mark S. Itzkowitz, MD, JD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.