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Multiple Sclerosis: Bladder Problems


A person with MS may have trouble getting the bladder to empty all the way. This is because the muscle that helps to retain urine cannot relax. (This is a form of spasticity).

Sometimes urination can be started by pressing or tapping the bladder area or by straining. Medicines can also help in some cases. Examples include oxybutynin (Ditropan) or tolterodine (Detrol).

If these treatments don't help, you may need to use a urinary catheter. This is a thin flexible tube that you insert through the urethra and into the bladder. It allows urine to drain. (The urethra is the tube that carries urine outside the body from the bladder.) This is called intermittent self-catheterization. It's usually done at the toilet.

It only takes a little instruction and a few practice sessions to learn to do this procedure. It can relieve symptoms and help prevent urinary tract infections.


Current as of: March 1, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Karin M. Lindholm DO - Neurology