Bladder problems are now being recognized as conditions with serious medical consequences. The National Association for Continence has reported that urinary incontinence is among the top 3 reasons for nursing home admissions. Of the patients already in nursing homes, about half are incontinent. The condition also increases the risk of bladder and skin infections, along with depression and social isolation. Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is another bladder problem affecting millions of individuals.
The surge of bladder problems has opened the door for an array of treatments including new medications, surgical procedures, and behavioral techniques. Currently, there are approximately 200 surgical procedures that use sutures, slings, and "bulking agents"for SUI. William Steers, MD, chairman of urology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, said that while some new techniques are minimally invasive and outpatient procedures appear effective, these fixes for the anatomical problems underlying SUI can cause muscle spasm problems of urge incontinence.
Treatments that do not require hospital admissions for SUI include exercises to strengthen muscles that support the pelvic organs and tampon- like devices women hold in the vagina for a few minutes a day to strengthen muscles. Another possible treatment for urge incontinence is the stimulation of nerves in the spinal cord that control urination.