Can Botox be used as a viable treatment option for those with an over active bladder or incontinence? There are many studies asking this same question, and the answer is that yes, Botox may be just as good as medication for relieving symptoms of an overactive bladder.
How? It relaxes the bladder muscles, which means that urinary incontinence due to nerve damage can be helped using Botox.
A recent study was done to use Botox injections in the bladder to reduce the episodes of urinary incontinence. The results were as good for Botox as for study participants that used a daily pill for helping control urinary incontinence. For 70% of the participants, at the six-month marker, the average was three leaks a day, as compared to the average of five at the beginning of the study, and for some, the incontinence went away completely.
The effects of Botox on the bladder and for bladder control don't last forever, incontinent individuals who choose this route will need injections at least yearly, and possibly more often (every nine months) to help control their symptoms. Botox is a more expensive option, at roughly $1000 per injection.
Why would you choose Botox over a pill or other medication? One of the biggest reasons is that not only is it FDA approved, but it means a one time injection versus a daily pill. Right now, most insurance will not cover this option, but if the FDA gives it more widespread approval for incontinence treatment, it will be a very viable option, and likely be covered by insurers.
Are there any down sides? Like any treatment option, using Botox to treat an overactive bladder does have risks. For some it will lead to urine retention, which means an increased risk of needing a catheter to drain the bladder. For many, a Botox injection leads to a urinary tract infection. And for some frequent UTI's.
A doctor would perform the Botox injection. Most report that it is not painful, as a numbing agent is used for the site of injection. Botox is not as much a solution as it is a management option, as it can help reduce episodes of incontinence and help individuals regain a sense of control. It is a great first line treatment, and a great option for those adverse to taking pills, or not wanting a daily reminder of their condition.
Chances are we will see a lot more about Botox and overactive bladder treatment as it gains some steam and more FDA approval.