Overactive bladder (OAB) affects millions of American adults. However, many resist seeking conventional treatment out of fear of embarrassment. As such, they may turn to alternative remedies, asking whether treatments like massage can help an overactive bladder. Can such alternative methodologies bring relief?
There’s no need to be overly concerned about occasional urgency and leakage, but it can understandably interfere with your quality of life. Discovering the underlying cause is your best bet, requiring a doctor’s trip. However, complementary therapies such as massage therapy can also improve your symptoms.
What approach should you take to finding relief? Here’s why and how a massage can help bladder problems and how to get a successful overactive bladder massage.
What Is an Overactive Bladder? Signs and Causes
OAB refers to a set of urinary symptoms, not a specific disease, although illness can exacerbate it. People with OAB may:
- Have sudden, uncontrollable urges to urinate.
- Occasionally leak urine unrelated to stress urinary incontinence, which occurs when coughing, sneezing or laughing.
- Urinate frequently, requiring multiple trips throughout the day.
- Experience frequent nighttime urination.
OAB symptoms can result from various causes, including the following:
- Neurological disorders
- Hormonal changes
- Pelvic muscle weakness or spasms
- Urinary tract infections
- Medication side effects
OAB is exceedingly common, with 16% of American adults experiencing occasional symptoms. The condition typically worsens with age but improves with treatments, including medications, nerve stimulation, behavioral changes and exercise.
That’s why seeing your doctor is so imperative. While home remedies such as probiotics or pomegranate juice can treat a bladder infection, frequent recurrence denotes a bigger underlying problem. If — like many Americans — you lack coverage or can’t afford your deductible, seek sliding-scale clinics. Planned Parenthood also offers testing for bladder infections and you can take care of your reproductive health all in one trip.
Traditional Treatments for Overactive Bladder
Using a combination approach often results in a one-two punch that decreases your symptoms more quickly. The traditional treatments for OAB include the following:
- Pelvic floor exercises: Kegels
- Biofeedback: This method uses sensors to alert you to subtle changes in your body, helping you strengthen your muscles when you experience urgency.
- Weight loss: Excess weight puts pressure on your bladder.
- Intermittent catheterization: If you cannot empty your bladder, a catheter can help you do so.
- Bladder training: Gradually increasing the time between restroom trips.
Can a Massage Help Bladder Problems?
Massage can help bladder problems and may be a powerful complementary therapeutic tool in reducing OAB symptoms. One recent review of 77 female patients with the condition revealed 84.7% experienced improvement from myofascial release — a frequently used massage technique — compared to only 27.8% of patients not receiving the treatment.
Therapeutic massage may even be effective against stress urinary incontinence. One study of eleven women showed eight reduced urinary leakage after attending massage therapy sessions twice a week for four weeks.
How Massage Helps Urinary Problems
Massage helps OAB and urinary problems by relaxing the smooth muscle tissue. Every organ in your body consists of this tissue, and bladder spasms can lead to accidents and leakage. By easing cramps and promoting effective smooth muscle contraction, you can empty your bladder completely, leading to less frequent accidents.
Massage also soothes your central nervous system. Remember, OAB can result from malfunctioning nerve firing. Massage reduces strain on this system, reducing the number of messages sent and helping your bladder muscles relax. It also improves the symptoms of many diseases that can lead to OAB, including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.
Finally, massage activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your body’s relaxation response. It lowers levels of stress hormones that can send you into sympathetic overdrive, where excessive cortisol levels can lead to nagging anxiety and physical symptoms like OAB.
Tips for a Successful Overactive Bladder Massage
How can you increase your chances of experiencing relief from an overactive bladder massage? Here are some tips to take to your next treatment.
1. Talk to Your Therapist
Massage therapists are trained medical practitioners who can tell much from the tension in various muscle groups and other signs like facial expressions. However, they aren’t psychics — they won’t know you struggle with OAB unless you tell them. Open up about your health conditions, as it can help you find better relief.
2. Try Various Techniques
There are multiple massage techniques — which one works best for you is highly personal. For example, some people adore the heavy pressure of deep tissue work, but others with more frazzled nervous systems could find such treatments overstimulating.
Specific pressure points in the hands and feet work like acupuncture to send messages along nerve channels and may help ease your symptoms. Other modalities — like hot stones — relax and open up muscles and connective tissues, making it easier for your therapist to manipulate them. You can also learn massage techniques to practice on yourself or with a partner. Finally, handheld devices can help you apply the proper pressure and hit those spots it might be hard for hands alone to reach.
Overactive Bladder and Massage
If you’re one of the millions of Americans living with OAB, you understand the effect your condition has on your quality of life. Natural alternative therapies — such as overactive bladder massage — work with traditional treatments to decrease or eliminate unwanted urgency and leakage.
Massage can help bladder problems by calming your nervous system and relaxing your muscle tissue, letting it work more efficiently. Plus, you get to rest beneath the healing power of touch, which benefits your overall health.
Do you want to try overactive bladder massage on yourself? Myobuddy’s goal is always to help our clients get the most benefits out of their self-massage tools. Our tools are helping to change the game in the world of muscle therapy. Please explore our device line, get in touch and let us assist in your healing.