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Resolving the Root of Incontinence Instead of Dealing with the Symptoms

By Kent Sasse March 30, 2022 Health and Fitness

Sacral neuromodulation is a lot of syllables describing a terrific technology to resolve bowel and bladder leakage, as well as overactive bladder (OAB). One of the most exciting things about this minimally invasive technology is that it is really the first solution that treats some of the root causes of incontinence and bladder spasm.

That’s in stark contrast to options like bladder medications or adult diapers, which are intended to help manage the symptoms of incontinence.

Traditional Treatments

There is a host of “solutions” to bladder incontinence. Medications cause certain muscle groups to relax. Surgery tries to elevate or suspend certain ligaments. Botox injections attempt to cause relaxation of the detrusor muscle to add bladder capacity.

But none of these therapies resolves the problem of diminished nerve signaling and neuromuscular coordination of the pelvic floor, bladder sphincter, and bowel sphincter.

A Better Option

When cardiac researchers were grappling with the problem of faulty heartbeats and arrhythmias stemming from the loss of heart nerve and muscle coordination, they tried a variety of drugs and surgery. But they quickly learned that the safest, simplest, and most effective solution was to restore nerve signaling to the tissues of the heart that conduct motor impulses.

What this meant was that for millions of people who had dangerous or life-threatening arrhythmias, a cardiac pacemaker device solved the problem with a minimally invasive procedure using a computerized device with a battery.

In fact, pace making technology has been so successful that it has led to growth in many other treatment areas of the body, with promising results treating Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, and pelvic floor dysfunction.

FDA approved 20 years ago, the sophistication of sacral neuromodulation continues to impress. The size of the device has become so small that few people are even aware of it once it is implanted. And the battery life has become so long that most people will not need to change the battery for more than a decade.

In experienced hands, the procedure takes 25 minutes, is entirely comfortable with light sedation, and the recipient walks out of the surgery center with two small Band-Aids. More importantly, they leave with no further need for liners, pads, or diapers.

A New Lease on Life

Like cardiac pace making technology before it, pelvic floor pace making, or sacral neuromodulation, involves a sophisticated but tiny computer sending regulated impulses across the plexus of nerves called the sacral plexus in the region of the tailbone.

This is where the nerve trunks thin out, like all the fine hairs of a horse’s mane, and carries complex signaling both to and from the muscle systems that make up the pelvic floor and sphincters.

The computerized regulation will inhibit some impulses and stimulate other impulses, so that the net result is a profound improvement in control of the bowel and bladder sphincters – and a profound reduction in leakage and overactive bladder symptoms. 

Many state-of-the-art centers combine this minimally invasive technology with pelvic floor exercise therapies to achieve the best results and give people a new lease on life without diapers. The technology has moved us well past the far less effective and more side effect-prone treatments of medications and surgery.

Sacral neuromodulation is FDA approved and covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and virtually all insurance plans, because it works. Simply put, it is a unique treatment that gets at the root cause of the bladder and bowel problem to finally, truly solve it. If incontinence is something you or a loved one is experiencing, it’s time to learn more about the most effective method of treatment.

Have you always considered incontinence a condition pertaining to old people? Now that you are over 60, how do you look at this issue? What treatments have you heard of or tried?

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The Author

Dr. Kent Sasse, an Alpha Omega Alpha top medical school graduate of UCSF, earned fellowship at the prestigious Lahey Clinic in Boston and published research on pelvic floor therapy and metabolic surgery. He founded and directs The Continence Center and the nationally accredited Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery program in Reno, Nevada. His most recent book is Outpatient Weight-Loss Surgery.

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