Low Back Pain and Urinary Incontinence
Back pain is already frustrating enough. The tweaks, aches, and pains can be pretty demotivating and distracting as is, but what happens when you throw incontinence into the mix? Well, then along with back pain you may also experience urinary accidents. See exactly what contributes to low back pain and incontinence and how to make managing these symptoms easy.
Our bodies are much more connected than we realize, which is why lower back pain and incontinence are often associated with one another. The bladder and kidneys are located towards the lower abdomen with back muscles and nerves sitting behind them. Because this region is so close together, bladder conditions may cause pain in the back and issues affecting the back muscles, spine, or nerves, can impact the bladder.
Spinal Disorders and Neurogenic Bladder Dysfunction
Often times spinal disorders associated with injuries that result in nerve damage are linked to Neurogenic Bladder Disorder (NBD), which refers to urination issues. Neurogenic is a term for the nerve tissues that stimulate an organ or muscle to properly function.
With NBD the nerves that control the bladder and other muscles involved with urination may cause the bladder to be under or overactive.
When the nerves for bladder sensation or function become irritated, inflamed, or compressed, dysfunctions such as frequent urination, the sudden overwhelming urge to urinate, or involuntarily voiding the bladder may occur.
NBD is commonly caused by spinal cord injuries (SCI). Accidents that cause bruising or constrict blood flow along the spinal cord can damage the ability to transmit nerve signals.
Herniated discs, infections, lesions, lumbar tumors, and fractures along the spine can also cause back pain and damage to the spinal nerves leading to bladder dysfunction. These conditions may also cause Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES), a serious medical issue requiring immediate attention.
Cauda Equina Syndrome and Incontinence
Cauda equina syndrome is a condition that causes squeezing or compression in the cauda equina sac of nerves at the base of the spinal cord, resulting in lower back pain and urinary incontinence. As the nerves are pinched, they are unable to properly function and may result in the involuntary loss of urine.
Cauda equina symptoms include weakness in the legs, numbness or tingling in the lower back and legs, and incontinence.
In some cases, cauda equina can be treated by surgically decompressing the spine, depending on the extent of damage involved with the nerve tissue.
Back Pain and Incontinence in Women
Depending on the cause of back pain or incontinence, symptoms may vary. Women often struggle with stress incontinence after giving birth and leak while participating in activities that add stress to the bladder, such as laughing, sneezing, or lifting a heavy object. However, kidney problems such as stones can also cause frequent urination or urge incontinence– when the urge to urinate suddenly strikes.
While studies show that in some patients the cause of back pain and incontinence is linked to weight gain or sedentary lifestyles, both conditions can also be caused by chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes and arthritis.
When it comes to giving birth, 50% of women report stress urinary incontinence. Postpartum back pain and incontinence may impact moms for up to twelve months after their babies are delivered due to pelvic floor weakness.
Pelvic floor muscles often become weakened due to the added stress of supporting a growing infant and from supporting the body during labor. Once weakened, pelvic floor muscles are less able to function under increased pressure from the abdominal muscles during physical activities, leading to leaks. Pelvic floor muscles also play a role in spinal stability.
Managing Low Back Pain and Incontinence
If you’re experiencing back pain, incontinence, or even both, go speak to your doctor. They may be able to rule out any serious conditions contributing to the issues and they can put together a proper treatment plan.
In some cases, incontinence can be treated and– with physical therapy to relieve pain and Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles– may go away over time. In other cases, incontinence can only be managed.
Lifestyle changes can be beneficial for assisting with both back pain and incontinence symptoms. Try to become more active, with at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise about three times a week. Try swimming, riding a bike, or simply even walking to get moving.
Also, a healthy diet to relieve pressure on your digestive tract. Caffeine, items high in sugar, spicy foods, and alcohol can increase incontinence symptoms. Try adding more water, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet to relieve constipation and pressure on the bladder. The added nutrition may help with your low back pain as well.
If you have an underlying condition that’s causing incontinence, Aeroflow can help provide incontinence products. No one has the time to deal with insurance companies or prescriptions from a doctor. That’s why we do it for you! We’ll work directly with your Medicaid provider to ensure you receive the maximum benefits available. We’ll even ship your supplies directly to your door each month in discreet unmarked packaging, at no cost.