A spinal cord injury may interrupt communication between the nerves in the spinal cord that control bladder and bowel function and the brain, causing bladder- and bowel-function problems. This results in bladder or bowel dysfunction that is termed "neurogenic bladder" or "neurogenic bowel." People with multiple sclerosis or spina bifida may have similar problems.

If you have neurogenic bladder, your signs may include loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence), inability to empty the bladder, urinary frequency and urinary tract infections. Signs of neurogenic bowel include loss of bowel control (bowel incontinence), constipation, bowel frequency and lack of bowel movements.

The Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota offers several bladder and bowel management options for people with neurogenic bladder or bowel. Read more about neurogenic bladder and bowel management options.

Read more about diagnosis and treatment of spinal cord injury.

The Mayo Clinic Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota offers several bladder and bowel management options for people with a neurogenic bladder or bowel.

Bladder management options for people with a neurogenic bladder include:

  • Education. Staff provides you with comprehensive patient education regarding neurogenic bladder symptoms and management.
  • Medications. Your doctor may prescribe medications to improve bladder function, such as reduce bladder contractions, lower urinary frequency, improve loss of bladder control (incontinence), increase bladder storage or empty the bladder.
  • Clean technique intermittent catheterization. In clean technique intermittent catheterization (CIC), you or a health care professional inserts a thin tube (catheter) through the urethra and into your bladder several times during the day to empty your bladder.
  • Continuous catheter drainage. A health care professional may insert a catheter through your urethra or abdominal wall and into your bladder to continuously empty your bladder.
  • Surgical intervention. Doctors trained in bladder management (urologists) may perform bladder reconstructive surgery that may resolve or improve bladder symptoms and management.
  • Follow-up care. Doctors and other specialists trained in neurogenic bladder management and treatment provide follow-up care.

Bowel management options for people with a neurogenic bowel include:

  • Education. Staff provides you with comprehensive education regarding neurogenic bowel symptoms and management.
  • Medications. Your doctor may prescribe medications to manage timing and consistency of bowel movements.
  • Anal irrigation. Anal irrigation is a new conservative bowel management therapy to reduce constipation and assist in effective bowel movement and management.
  • Surgical intervention. Surgeons trained in bowel surgery (colorectal surgeons) may perform reconstructive surgery that may resolve difficulties in bowel management.
  • Experience. Mayo Clinic doctors and staff have helped thousands of people recover from traumatic spinal cord injuries and nontraumatic spinal disorders using many therapies. The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) has accredited the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
  • Integrated team. Mayo Clinic's spinal cord injury rehabilitation team is led by doctors trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation, bladder management (urologists), bowel surgery (colorectal surgeons), bone and muscle surgery (orthopedic surgeons), and brain and nervous system surgery (neurosurgeons). Your treatment team also includes nurses, mental health professionals, physical therapists, occupational and recreational therapists, and other specialists.
  • Individualized care. Your doctors will create an individualized treatment plan to meet your needs. Health care professionals will work with you to help you manage your bladder and bowel function. The team considers you and your family to be an integral part of the treatment team, and you'll be informed and involved in making decisions and setting goals.
  • Treatment and follow-up care. Mayo Clinic doctors trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation and other staff offer a full range of spinal cord injury rehabilitation services. Your spinal cord injury rehabilitation team provides inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation and lifelong care. Pediatric specialists trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation care for children with spinal cord injuries at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
  • Research. Mayo Clinic researchers study outcomes, rehabilitation options and potential treatments for people with spinal cord injuries and conduct clinical trials.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for rehabilitation by U.S. News & World Report.

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.

Why Choose Mayo Clinic

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Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Doctors trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation and other staff care for people with spinal cord injuries who may need neurogenic bladder and bowel management in the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

You'll need a physician's referral to be considered for admission into the inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program or for an appointment in the outpatient program.

For information regarding admission to the inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program, call the admissions coordinator at 507-266-6442 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday. For information regarding outpatient appointments, please call 507-284-5000 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday.

Pediatric specialists trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation care for children with spinal cord injuries who require rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Children needing inpatient treatment receive care at Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Your child will need a physician's referral to be considered for admission to the inpatient program or for an appointment in the outpatient program.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo Clinic researchers conduct research in spinal cord injury rehabilitation, including studying neurogenic bladder and bowel management and other therapies for people with spinal cord injuries. Researchers also study outcomes, new treatment options and other areas related to spinal cord injury rehabilitation. Read more about spinal cord injury research.

Mayo Clinic researchers conduct many studies related to spinal cord injury, including nerve regeneration in the spinal cord system and diaphragmatic pacing system, among others.

Publications

See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic authors on spinal cord injury rehabilitation on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Feb. 16, 2012