PTNS for Overactive Bladder Treatment

A nonsurgical overactive bladder treatment known as percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) may be the answer, if you have been living with urge urinary incontinence. This form of neuromodulation is administered much like acupuncture and does not require surgery. There are numerous treatment options available to help you regain control once more when conservative methods, such as physical therapy, behavior modification, and medications fail.

What is PTNS?

PTNS uses mild electrical pulses to stimulate the nerves in the sacral plexus to the tibial nerve, which is located in the ankle. The tibial nerve travels up the leg to the sacral plexus, which is responsible for regulating the bladder and pelvic floor muscles. Neuromodulation can effectively strengthen and normalize nerve function, which in turn can provide incontinence treatment.

In order to stimulate the nerve, a small needle-thin electrode is inserted in the ankle and connected to a battery stimulator that delivers mild pulses for 30 minutes. Most patients describe the sensation of the treatment as tingling or pulsing. In many cases, the electrical impulse also stimulates an involuntary toe flex or extension of the foot.

PTNS treatments typically result in a tingling or pulsating sensation. They offer many levels of stimulation, and a urologist can adjust the stimulation level based on a patient’s needs.

What Urological Conditions Can Be Treated with PTNS?

PTNS has been shown to help patients address a variety of urological conditions, including:

  • Urge Incontinence: Occurs due to abnormal bladder contractions and causes a person to feel a frequent urge to urinate. In some instances, urge incontinence is the result of spinal cord damage, bladder irritation, or a bladder that malfunctions due to nerve damage caused by diabetes, stroke, or other diseases.
  • Interstitial Cystitis (IC): Causes severe pain and pressure below the belly button. IC is a chronic bladder problem that causes pressure to increase as the bladder fills up.
  • Nocturia: Refers to frequent urination at night. Those who wake up two or more times per night to urinate may be dealing with nocturia.

What to Expect During a PTNS Consultation

A urologist wants to help a patient address an overactive bladder in any way possible. To do so, he or she requests a patient consultation to determine if PTNS can help a patient achieve long-term overactive bladder relief.

During a PTNS consultation, a urologist conducts a full patient evaluation. He or she learns about a patient and analyzes this individual’s overactive bladder symptoms. Also, a urologist may request various tests as part of his or her patient evaluation.

If a urologist determines PTNS may be the best option to treat overactive bladder symptoms, he or she teaches a patient about the procedure. A urologist wants to help a patient make an informed decision and ensure this individual feels comfortable with PTNS. As such, a urologist devotes the necessary time and resources to teach a patient about all aspects of treatment.

If a patient decides PTNS is the right choice to treat overactive bladder symptoms, a patient and urologist will work together to develop a custom treatment program. Together, a patient and urologist will implement a PTNS treatment plan designed to help a patient achieve fast, safe, and effective results.

What to Expect During a PTNS Procedure

A urologist teaches a patient about PTNS prior to treatment. That way, a patient knows what to expect during a PTNS procedure and can plan accordingly.

During a PTNS procedure, a urologist inserts a small acupuncture needle near a patient’s ankle, over his or her tibial nerve. This enables electrical impulses to travel from the tibial nerve to the sacral nerves, which control the bladder nerves and other pelvic floor nerves.

Who is Eligible for PTNS?

PTNS has been approved for patients who suffer from an overactive bladder (a form of urinary incontinence) and experience urge incontinence and leakage. Unfortunately, PTNS is not recommended for patients who have implantable defibrillators or pacemakers, which may interfere with tibial nerve stimulation. It is also not recommended for patients who suffer from nerve damage or excessive bleeding, as well as those who are pregnant or trying to becoming pregnant during the treatment sessions.

How Many PTNS Sessions Will I Need?

Patients initially undergo a series of 12 treatment sessions that are scheduled every 7 days. If your body responds well to the sessions, you may need only 1 session a month to help maintain your results and reclaim control of your bladder from urge urinary incontinence. Patients typically see results within 5 to 7 weeks of regular treatment. The majority of individuals who respond to PTNS see significant improvement in nerve function after the initial 12 sessions.

What Are the Risks Associated with PTNS Treatments?

Temporary pain and/or skin inflammation at or near the stimulation site may occur due to PTNS treatments. However, these symptoms are generally minor and will quickly disappear on their own.

A urologist teaches a patient about the dangers associated with PTNS prior to treatment. He or she is happy to respond to a patient’s PTNS treatment concerns and questions at any point during a PTNS treatment program, too.

PTNS Advice from a Los Angeles Urologist

Determining the best treatment for an overactive bladder can be difficult. Fortunately, PTNS often helps patients address overactive bladder symptoms for an extended period of time.

Every patient has unique needs and concerns, and the expert urologists at Comprehensive Urology take the time to understand each patient’s condition and goals in order to work toward an effective solution. In many cases, a combination of exercise, diet adjustments, bladder retraining, and PTNS can provide the relief a patient needs from urinary incontinence; however, it is important to work with an experienced urologist to find the best option for your unique health needs, specifically urinary incontinence treatment.

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The information available on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace a medical consultation where a physician's judgment may advise you about specific disorders, conditions and or treatment options. We hope the information will be useful for you to become more educated about your health care decisions.