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How to treat an overactive bladder

How to treat an overactive bladder


Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common condition that affects millions of people, both male and female worldwide. OAB affects the way your bladder behaves. It describes a sudden, involuntary contraction of the muscle in the wall of the urinary bladder. Even when the volume of urine in your bladder is low.

In people with OAB, the detrusor muscle of the bladder contracts more often than it should and at inappropriate times. The bladder muscles appear to give incorrect messages to the brain. This causes it to feel more full than it actually is.

There are different types of OAB. Urge incontinence describes a sudden desire to pass urine that is too difficult to hold. Urgency can occur with or without accidental leakages. When you hear running water or put the key in the door, you can trigger overactive bladder. How frequently you go to the bathroom can characterise OAB. Going more than 8 times in 24hours normally indicates OAB. Nocturia is another form of OAB where the individual gets up to go to the toilet more than twice during the night leading to poor sleep quality.

OAB is treated by modifying a number of lifestyle factors, taking medications, keeping diaries and through physiotherapy. Certain types of food and drink may irritate the bladder and lead to an increased urge to urinate. Your weight, smoking and certain types of exercise can also lead to OAB.

Double voiding (emptying your bladder twice), delayed voiding and scheduled voiding are also methods which your women’s health physiotherapist may advise you on in order to control OAB and prevent leakage.


Physiotherapy treatment for OAB can help train your bladder with targeted exercises and strategies specific to your particular symptoms of OAB. Other treatments techniques your physio may educate you on include pelvic floor exercises, deep abdominal contractions, anxiety-reducing exercises, posture re-training and distraction techniques.

When examining your pelvic floor muscles, your physiotherapist will determine whether they are too tight. From holding them on constantly or whether they are too weak due to childbirth, menopause, constipation and straining, or a chronic cough. Your physiotherapist can then prescribe exercises to help correct activity of your pelvic floor muscles. These allow normal function of the detrusor muscle of the bladder. Your physiotherapist will also help in retraining your bladder to manage OAB. This entails learning how to defer going to the toilet using urge control techniques. This helps the bladder fill more and get closer to storing the normal capacity of 350-500mls.Other techniques include crossing your legs, squeezing your butt muscles, a gentle pelvic floor or deep abdominal contraction.

Through a combination of the above treatment techniques, under the guidance of your women’s health physiotherapist, many people notice an improvement within a month.

If you have been experiencing symptoms associated with OAB contact us here. Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic our clinic director Aileen MaGuire leads this service.  Her experience in this field is augmented by her role as Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in Mater Misericordiae Hospital where as part of a multi-disciplinary team she provides Physiotherapy care in the management of complex urinary and bowel incontinence for both male and female patients.

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