Frequently Asked Questions

Bladder Management Program After Spinal Cord Injury

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What is a bladder management program?

A bladder management program allows you to empty your bladder at different times during the day. This program will help reduce your risks for accidents in public, and for bladder and kidney infections.

What should I do while on a bladder management program?

  • Drink liquids as directed. Ask your caregiver how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Do not drink coffee, tea, or alcohol. These liquids may cause dehydration and irritate your bladder.

  • Monitor intake and output. Caregivers may ask you to measure the amount of liquids you are drinking and urinating. This will help them know if your program is working.

How do I empty my bladder?

You may use one or more methods depending on the kind of bladder problems you have. Caregivers will work with you to develop a bladder management program that works for you.

  • Intermittent self-catheterization means you will place a sterile catheter (a bendable tube) into your bladder several times each day to drain your urine. Ask your caregiver for more information about the steps you need to follow to perform self-catheterization safely.

  • A Foley catheter is a tube put into your bladder to drain your urine. The catheter may be placed through your urethra or through an opening in your abdomen into your bladder. The catheter drains your urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your waist. This will prevent urine from flowing back into your bladder and causing an infection or other problems. Also, keep the tube free of kinks so the urine will drain properly.

  • An external condom catheter is put over a man's penis. The tip of the condom catheter is a tube that connects to the urine bag. Condom catheters are not for long-term use.

  • Bladder stimulation techniques stimulate your body's reflexes to empty the bladder. For external stimulation, tap repeatedly over the pubic bone, stroke the insides of your thighs, or do chair push-ups. Internal stimulation may be done with a device that is surgically placed under the skin. The device signals your bladder to contract and release urine. Ask your caregiver for more information about these stimulation techniques.

Why is it important to empty my bladder frequently?

An overfilled bladder can cause autonomic dysreflexia. This condition usually happens if your spinal cord injury is above T5-6. Your blood pressure becomes very high and can lead to stroke or death. Ask caregivers for more information about autonomic dysreflexia.

When should I contact my caregiver?

  • You have a fever.

  • You have blood or blood clots in your urine.

  • You have nausea or are vomiting.

  • You have an increase in bladder spasms.

  • You are urinating less than usual.

  • You have pain in your back around your waist.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have a sudden increase in blood pressure.

  • The skin on the lower part of your body is cold and dry, with goose bumps.

  • You are anxious or nervous.

  • The skin on the upper part of your body is hot, sweating, and red.

  • You have a sudden throbbing headache.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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