In my last blog post I looked at the ‘bladder-back-connection’. ‘Fix your Back, Fix your Bladder’ is part 2, in which I’m going to look at potential causes for back problems that affect the bladder and possible solutions.
To recap on the last post, I explained how the nerves connecting the bladder to the brain pass through the spine and that an injury to the spine can lead to damage or compression of these nerves.
The result can be bladder issues such as UTIs and interstitial cystitis.
What causes injury to the spine?
Our modern life has many aspects that can compromise the spine. This ranges from the shoes we wear to the exercise or work we do. Let’s look at a few common factors:
Shoes: I we wear heels that are too high for our hip or leg structure we could end up with a swayback to compensate for imbalances (‘lordosis’). This may put pressure on the lower spine.
Pregnancy can do the same.
Sitting: Sitting too much has been associated with a range of health concerns. When we sit, the pressure on the lower disks of the spine is 40% higher than when we stand. Therefore, people who are very sedentary due to work etc. have a higher incidence of disk rupture .
Posture: Bad posture can increase pressure on the spine.
Heavy lifting: People who do a lot of manual work which includes heavy lifting often end up with back problems.
Mobile phones: Looking at phones frequently can cause the so-called ‘tech neck’ (neck is bend forward and downward), which can put more pressure on the lower spine.
Exercise: Using the wrong technique when lifting weights could compromise the spine. Jogging, if prolonged may put strain on the pelvic floor and may damage the nerves that send signals to the pelvic floor musculature .
Instability in the back: For those who have an unstable back, movements that rock the spine from side to side could trigger bladder issues.
How to know if your bladder issues are related to your back?
- If you frequently suffer from lower back pain or pain in your upper thighs (this can be caused by a slipped disk) you may want to treat your back and see if bladder issues resolve.
- If you do a lot of lifting, gardening or wear heals often you might want to get your back checked.
- You can do a uroflow test, which measures if your bladder passes urine efficiently. If it shows irregularities, your bladder nerves may be compromised.
- Get your spine checked by a chiropractor who knows about its connection to the bladder.
- Get your back checked by a specialist through X-rays or MRI scans.
What to do if your back is affecting your bladder?
- Work with a good chiropractor. A specialized technique called flexion/distraction therapy may be particularly useful – ask for this when looking for a chiropractor.
- Acetylcholine may help with nerve conduction. You may be able to boost this by taking choline (found in eggs and available as supplements) or speak to your doctor about a direct replacement.
- Do gentle exercise such as yoga and swimming, which may help to stretch the spine.
- Avoid any form of exercise that can compromise the spine and bladder. If you lift weights work with a professional to make sure you are using the right technique or use safe equipment such as Nautilus.
- Work on your posture (you may want to consult a functional movement specialist).
- Avoid prolonged sitting.
- Avoid looking down on your phone. Instead, lift your phone up so you can look at it whilst keeping the head straight.
- Avoid wearing heels and consider barefoot shoes.
- If you indeed have a slipped disk, your doctor may consider surgery. This is a keyhole procedure and normally gets rid of back pain instantly.
Now I would like to hear from you. Has fixing your back helped with bladder issues? Let me know in the comments!
Pin it for later:
- Gillespie, Larrian You don’t have to live with cystitis (New York: Avon Books, 1996), p. 40
- Gillespie, Larrian You don’t have to live with cystitis (New York: Avon Books, 1996), p. 42
Gillespie, Larrian You don’t have to live with cystitis (New York: Avon Books, 1996)
KarenMarch 28, 2018
Hi Layla. It is with great interest that I read your article. I am a 62 year old woman who has suffered from repeated uti’s often accompanied by lower back pain. Despite mentioning this to both the gp and the urologist both said there is no connection. Currently I have almost constant lower back pain which causes bladder pressure making me feel that I need to urinate frequently. I am currently on vacation and do not have access to e-mail but will pick up any mails early next week
LaylaApril 9, 2018
Hi Karen, I believe this may well be related. Are you considering treatment for your back? I’d be interested to hear how you get on.
Sarah EngelSeptember 5, 2019
I’m so happy to see that there is finally a connection between my back pain and my IC. When I go see my chiropractor and he put me on a decompression table my bladder feels better. But it doesn’t stay better. I’ve already had two back surgeries that has helped the pain going down my leg but I still have terrible back pain every day. I don’t know what else to do you mentioned yoga I need to give that a try again.