How to Manage MS Bladder Issues

By Erica Patino
Reviewed by Dana Cooper, M.D.
October 21, 2022

Multiple sclerosis (MS) commonly causes symptoms like fatigue, pain, numbness, and tingling, among others. But this condition of the central nervous system, which affects the brain and spinal cord, can also lead to additional issues throughout the body, including problems with the bladder. In fact, bladder issues affect at least 80% of people with MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

When a bladder is functioning normally, the nerves controlling the organ communicate with the brain through the spinal cord. “Since multiple sclerosis affects not only the brain but the spinal cord, it essentially damages these neural pathways,” says S. Adam Ramin, M.D., board-certified urologist and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles. “Because of that, the bladder doesn't function properly.”

Common MS Bladder Symptoms

MS can affect the bladder in a few different ways. “Basically, there are two manifestations,” says R. Mark Ellerkmann, M.D., director of urology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. “If you think about the bladder, it's either a storage problem or an emptying problem.” MS bladder symptoms can include the following: