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Nerve stimulation for incontinence is a medical procedure that can help individuals who have not responded to medications for urinary incontinence or other nonsurgical options and who don’t want to undergo surgery for incontinence. The procedure involves placing a needle through the skin near your ankle until it reaches the tibial nerve (a nerve in the leg). A mild electric impulse is sent through the needle. The signals travel along the tibial nerve to the spine and make contact with the nerves that control the bladder. You will need to have about 12 treatments, one per week, and each session takes about 30 minutes.
Use of nerve stimulation for incontinence has been successful in helping men who have urge incontinence. Research results indicate that about two-thirds of men treated with tibial nerve stimulation experienced at least a 50 percent reduction in the number of incontinent episodes.
Nearly half of patients reported having no urine leakage after treatment. Nerve stimulation for incontinence has no reported side effects except for pain at the stimulation site.
In a review of 11 randomized controlled trials and five prospective studies of tibial nerve stimulation for urinary incontinence, the authors noted the response rate was as high as 81.8 percent in the treated group when compared with 0 to 20.9 percent in the sham group and 54.8 percent among men who took an antimuscarinic (drug type often used to treat overactive bladder).
Repeated occasional treatments may be needed after the initial series to sustain improvement in urinary control. Men who are interested in trying nerve stimulation for incontinence should consult their healthcare provider.
Wibisono E, Rahardjo HE. Effectiveness of short term percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation for non-neurogenic overactive bladder syndrome in adults: a meta-analysis. Acta Medica Indonesiana 2015 Jul; 47(3): 188-200