Treatment for over active bladder in Parkinson’s (revisited) : by Dr. De Leon

I am sure you guys have seen the commercial for inflammatory

disease -ulcerative colitis/Cronhs- where it says that no matter

where you go and the situation the view is always the same…and

shows a bathroom door.

because of this I decided to re- post since this is a huge issue

affecting so many of our lives which greatly impact our quality of

life but more importantly is a problem which has a solution in most

instances..for more information stay tuned to a mjfox webinar

i will be participating in on 4th Thursday of this month…please be

sure to stay tuned. It will take place on April 20th from 11am-12 CT/12-1pm ET Dr. Jorge Juncos and Dr. Janis Miyasaki are the leading experts for this talk.



Whenever somebody tells me, you go girl! I generally have to!” -unknown

As I mentioned before in a previous blog Parkinson’s patients as do patients that have various parkinsonian syndromes like MSA ( multi system atrophy) can have varying degrees of bladder issues ranging from increase urgency,frequency to outright incontinence!  Having bladder function problems can lead to severe psychosocial problems like depression and anxiety particularly among patients over 65 years of age, they can also lead to significant medical and economic burden.  This is by no means an easy task to solve since independent of neurological disease, over active bladder ( OAB ) affects up to 27% of men and 43 % of women of the global population. Now add a neurological condition atop of this and the problem becomes even more challenging for physicians.

Fist,we should review a few medications which make this problem worst, if possible should try to avoid:

  • Diuretics
  • antipsychotics
  • cold medicines
  • narcotics
  • sedatives
  • hypnotics
  • antidepressants
  • antihypertensives
  • analgesics
  • Over the counter sleep aids
  • herbal remedies

Proper management of patients with urinary problems like any other problem begins with a thorough and comprehensive evaluation, including a void diary, urine test to look for infections, diabetes and the such. Of note those of us who have chronic illnesses by definition are on multiple medications which tend to complicate evaluation and treatment but worsen by age. Physical exam is also extremely important since it can tell physicians for instance if there is enlarged prostate in men or enlarged uterus in women causing pressure on bladder or blocking sphincter. Your doctor may choose to do urodynamic studies which includes measuring pressures of pelvic muscles and urethra and voiding flow-this sometimes requires insertion of needles into bladder and abdomen to evaluate…can be uncomfortable and moderately painful at times especially if you are in mid to late stages of disease. Other tests may include cystoscopy which involves looking into bladder with a camera inserted through a long narrow tube via the urethra …similar to a colonoscopy except different organ! Other times, they may simply choose to do volumetrics…fill your bladder with fluids via an IV ( intravenous Cath) until they can reproduce symptoms.

Once all these studies are done, which usually are done either by a urologists or a gynecologists, and a cause of the urinary malfunction is ascertained then treatment can be instituted.

Aside from evaluating all medications which MUST always be done at the onset of any visit to make sure current medications are not the ones causing or aggravating the problem, an adjustment of dopamine medications is often necessary and should be done early on as well. This is because Parkinson’s and other parkinsonian syndromes commonly have bladder dysfunction as part of the disease spectrum. If however you are still having problems after going through above steps then the recommendations are as follow:

1) Behavioral modification:

This entails a strict commitment on the part of the patient in order to improve voiding…if done can be very effective. Insurance will pay for this however, must go to a trained professional experience in this type of therapy to have greater success rate.

I like this because this is treatment modality epitomizes “individualized medical care

This includes voiding diaries, timed voiding, pelvic floor muscle strengthening exercises, and urge suppression techniques (e.g distraction, self-assertions), biofeedback, electrical stimulation into sacral nerves or pelvic muscles, fluid management, caffeine, reduction, dietary changes ( I.e avoiding bladder irritants like caffeine, chocolate, spicy foods etc.), weight loss and other life style changes.

The beauty of this is that it can be combined with other treatment modalities.

2) Pharmacotherapy:

this includes a number of oral and transdermal( across skin) medications. These can be very effective and used after behavioral therapy failed or in combination. However, their efficacy is limited due to side effects although usually non life threatening. All medications come in extended release.

The medications in this class are primarily antimuscarinic- they include oxybutin (Ditropan, Oxytrol), tolterodine (Detrol), solifenacin (Vesicare), darifenacin (Enablex), **trospium (Sanctura- does not cross blood brain barrier), fesoterodine (Toviaz). **This latter may be best suited for treatment of elderly patients due to less side effects. Typical side effects of this class include dry mouth, constipation,dyspepsia, urinary retention, urine infections, impaired mental status, and dry and itchy eyes. Since a lot of these symptoms can already occur with PD or as side effect of other PD medications have to be extra vigilant when starting these meds and discuss any sudden changes with your physician ASAP!

The new comer is mirabegron ( Myrbetriq) for those that can’t tolerate antimuscarinic. Although may act as one it is a beta 3adrenoreceptor. I find this medicine to work very well especially for those patients that have mixed type urinary problems where they have over activity and increase sphincter control.

3) Botulinum toxin A:

Once patient had failed above treatments, your physician may suggest this treatment modality. However, not everyone is qualified to do this procedure…it requires operating room time and frequent visits…effects can last up to 9 months (on average 6 months). You Must always have an experienced physician doing this procedure. It is expensive and not all insurances cover costs.

4) Sacral neuromodulation:

This has become the leading treatment of choice for those that do not respond to normal treatments. This treatment was approved since 1997 by FDA . Reports have shown great efficacy and safety with gradual implant of electrodes into third sacral nerve foramen (aperture) initially during a test phase of 1-2 weeks followed then by implantation of pulse generator. The electrical impulses delivered to the root of the third sacral nerve has been shown to reduce urgency, frequency, and incontinence. Most common side effects include pain at stimulator site, pain at lead site, lead migration, electric shock, and revisions. However, as these procedures are done more frequently, they are becoming less invasive along with smaller devices which will lead to fewer adverse effects. Just like having DBS, you will need periodic adjustments and will not be able to do MRI’s and will require replacement of pulse generator.

5) Surgical Intervention:

This still remains as the last possible alternative for severe cases that are unresponsive to any of the above treatment modalities.


References-Kim, Ja-Hong. Management of Overactive Bladder and Urge incontinence. Practical Neurology. Vol. 13, No.7, September 2014. 27-32.


All tights reserved- Maria De Leon MD

Dr. M. De Leon is a movement disorder specialist on sabbatical, PPAC member and research advocate for PDF (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation); Texas State Assistant Director for PAN (Parkinson’s Action Network). You can learn more about her work at you can also learn more about Parkinson’s disease at or at;, All materials here forth are property of Defeatparkinsons. without express written consent, these materials only may be used for viewers personal & non-commercial uses which do not harm the reputation of Defeatparkinsons organization or Dr. M. De Leon provided you do not remove any copyrights. To request permission to reproduce release of any part or whole of content, please contact me at contributor Contributor


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