Effective treatments to curb overactive bladder

January 31, 2011 9:53:28 AM PST
If you thought overactive bladder only affects the elderly couple down the block -- think again.

Two-hundred-million folks across the world are dealing with that constant urge right now. That's more than the amount diagnosed with diabetes and breast cancer this year. Now, two new studies show how two new procedures are helping out - in a big way.

"I was just constantly worried about where the restroom was," said Linda Krogstad.

A common complaint if you've got an overactive bladder. Folks like Linda Krogstad know the frustration.

"I've been doing all kinds of things to help it, but nothing seemed to help," said Krogstad.

Numbers show overactive bladder affects 17 percent of women over 18, and 16 percent of men 18-plus. So doctors are using what's called neuro-modulation to stop urgency, frequency, and retention.

An implant like this delivers electrical pulses to restore communication between bladder and brain.

New studies show 85 percent of these patients report less urgency and frequency.

"The idea of it is it's similar to a pacemaker and the thought is that there is a miscommunication between the brain and the bladder," said Karen Noblett, MD, University of California, Irvine.

Next -- percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation -- or PTNS. Needles are inserted in the ankle - sending electric pulses to the sacral nerve to relax the bladder. A European study found 79 percent of recipients claimed to be "cured" after treatment.

"They stick a little, like, an acupuncture needle in your nerve down by your ankle up your foot that goes to your sacral nerve," said Krogstad.

The process was a breeze for Krogstad - no pain, no side effects. She's now living life again -- for the first time.

"I just do a lot more, I'm more active than I was before where I would just stay home and sit around," Krogstads said.

The PTNS therapy is a lengthy process involving 12 half-hour sessions. sadly -- each session can cost up to $200 -- and they're not always covered by insurers.

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