There are several different types of neurogenic bladder. Some of them are designated by their causes and some by their symptoms.

Neurogenic bladder is a broad term that is used to talk about what happens when your nervous system and your bladder can’t communicate the way they should.

This can be due to nerve problems in the brain or spinal cord and can be caused by injuries, infections, poisoning, surgery, stroke, chronic health conditions, and neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

Neurogenic bladder can lead to overactive bladder, underactive bladder, or a combination of both. The condition is commonly broken into five separate types: sensory, motor paralytic, uninhibited, reflex, and autonomous.

There are a few different ways to break down the types of neurogenic bladder. Sometimes, you’ll see the condition categorized by the type of urination difficulty it causes. This can be overactive bladder, underactive bladder, or a combination of both.

Overactive neurogenic bladder happens when something damages the nerves and causes your bladder muscles to squeeze too often. This can lead to urinary urgency, leakage, and incontinence.

Underactive neurogenic bladder happens when nerve damage leads to reduced squeezing of your bladder muscles. This can cause your bladder to not fully empty.

Neurogenic bladder can also be grouped by what kind of nerve damage is involved. There are different causes associated with each type, and certain symptoms are more common in some types than in others.

There are five types of neurogenic bladder:

  • sensory
  • motor paralytic
  • uninhibited
  • reflex
  • autonomous

You can read more about each of them below.

Symptoms of neurogenic bladder

The symptoms of a neurogenic bladder can depend on the type of neurogenic bladder you have and on the severity of nerve damage.

Common symptoms include:

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Sensory neurogenic bladder

Sensory neurogenic bladder means that the bladder and nerve communication have been interrupted by damage to certain fibers in the sensory nerves of the bladder or brain.

It’s caused by conditions such as diabetes, anemia, and tabes dorsalis. It can lead to chronic bladder swelling and an underactive bladder.

Motor paralytic neurogenic bladder

Motor paralytic neurogenic bladder is caused by a loss of function in specific nerves that help your brain and bladder communication.

It can happen as a result of surgery, traumatic injury, or as a complication of shingles. It leads to bladder swelling and incomplete bladder emptying.

Uninhibited neurogenic bladder

An uninhibited neurogenic bladder is caused by damage to the brain or spine.

It often occurs as the result of a stroke, brain tumor, or spinal lesions. It can lead to urinary frequency, urinary urgency, and urine leakage.

Reflex neurogenic bladder

Reflex neurogenic bladder is caused by difficulty with the nerves in your upper spine. It can happen as the result of a spinal cord injury, spinal cord disease, transverse myelitis, or extensive demyelinating disease.

It leads to a lack of control over bladder contractions and a loss of the sensation of bladder fullness.

Autonomous neurogenic bladder

An autonomous neurogenic bladder means that there’s damage to both the motor and sensory nerves that control the bladder.

It can happen as a result of conditions that affect the pelvic nerves or sacral spinal cord. It leads to a loss of ability to control urination and a loss of the sensation of bladder fullness.

Causes of neurogenic bladder

Any condition or injury that affects the way your nerves and bladder communicate could lead to a neurogenic bladder. Commonly, this includes conditions such as:

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Neurogenic bladder is a condition that happens when your nerves and bladder can’t communicate. This can be the result of an injury, infection, surgery complication, stroke, or chronic condition.

Sometimes, neurogenic bladder causes an overactive bladder and symptoms such as incontinence and urinary urgency, but it can also cause an underactive bladder and symptoms such as urinary retention. Some people experience a mix of underactive and overactive neurogenic bladder.

Neurogenic bladder can be divided into five different types: sensory, motor paralytic, uninhibited, reflex, and autonomous. These types are most often the result of different underlying causes and are linked to specific symptoms.