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Neuromodulation: What is it and why do we do it?

Neuromodulation (NM) is a way to deliver either electricity or drugs to nerves in order to change their activity.  NM is the name given to therapies in this category of treatment that  are used to treat a variety of diseases and symptoms. The idea and attraction of NM stems from its initial design as a reversible way to alter the nervous system. In short, this means that if we apply a certain therapy to a patient, that therapy can change a behavior of a nerve or function in the body. And if this therapy is stopped, the function is returned to where it was before the treatment. We use NM in all areas of medicine for problems with the diaphragm (muscle that helps us breathe), for chronic pain, muscle spasm, epilepsy (seizures), hearing problems/deafness, heart rhythm abnormalities and other pacemakers and in urology for bladder problems. We can use drugs to change the function of the nerves and we can use devices, or stimulators to do this also. The goal of NM is to stimulate nerves to improve bodily functions and patient symptoms, and as you can see, we use this therapy in almost every area of medicine.

Specific to urology patients, our goal in offering NM is to help treat patients with certain bladder conditions or complaints. Some of these conditions include:

  • Urgency/frequency
  • Urge incontinence
  • Urinary retention (inability to urinate)
  • Fecal incontinence (leaking of a bowel movement)
  • Muscle spasm (pelvic muscles)

Most patients are evaluated and are helped with their symptoms without ever using NM. Many times this can be done without even using medications, but many times we do offer medications to help certain patients. Sometimes, we make dietary and bowel behavioral changes to help symptoms. We can use NM when these simple behavioral changes or medication additions do not help.

In any urology practice that offers comprehensive care of a patient with any of these conditions, NM should be included in the spectrum of treatments available to any patient. Many of the NM treatments are non-invasive and some are implantable. Urologic Consultants offers all forms of NM available, and even some that are under research to be available in the future.