Urinary incontinence related to a neurological condition

Urinary incontinence related to a neurological condition

Urinary incontinence (referred to as incontinence in the rest of this information) is the leakage of urine when you do not mean to urinate (pass urine). It is a common condition with many causes and is particularly common in people with neurological conditions.

Neurological conditions affect the body's nervous system, involving damage to the brain, spinal cord or other nerves. The nervous system plays an important role in regulating the storage of urine in the bladder and coordinating and controlling when you pass urine. Damage to the nervous system may cause problems that affect the lower urinary tract. The lower urinary tract is the lower part of the urinary system, which includes the bladder, the tube that takes urine from the bladder (the urethra) and the muscles that control the release of urine (the sphincters). People with neurological conditions may have problems with the bladder or the sphincters or both, including:

  • Problems with bladder storage, for example, needing to urinate urgently and/or frequently, or incontinence. One type is urge incontinence, when you feel a sudden need to urinate and then can't stop some urine leaking out. This is often caused by the bladder muscle contracting before the bladder is full (called an overactive bladder or overactive bladder syndrome).

  • Stress incontinence, which involves leakage of urine when you strain, for example, on coughing or sneezing, or with the effort of lifting a heavy object.

  • Problems with bladder emptying, such as having a delay between trying and starting to urinate, a slow or weak urinary stream, the need to strain or problems with urine being held in the bladder.

Incontinence can have a major impact on people's lives. It can be distressing and can affect daily life and stop them taking part in activities.

The care described in this information may be provided by a range of professionals depending on your particular condition and circumstances. These could include your GP, specialists in urology or neurology and specialist or community nurses. Members of your healthcare team are referred to as healthcare professionals.

Questions you might like to ask your healthcare team

  • Please tell me more about how my urinary problem is caused by my neurological condition.

  • Are my urinary problems going to get worse over time?

  • Are there any support organisations in my local area?

  • Can you provide any information for my family/carers?

  • What help is available?

For family members, friends or carers:

  • What can I/we do to help and provide support?

  • Is there any additional support that I/we as a carer(s) might benefit from or are entitled to?

  • Information Standard