Sacral Nerve Stimulation Treatment Overview

Sacral Nerve Stimulation, also known as Sacral Neuromodulation, is a therapy used to treat bladder and bowel problems. In this article, learn about the sacral nerves, their role in bladder and bowel function, and how electrical stimulation of these nerves can reduce symptoms of overactive bladder (OAB) and fecal incontinence (FI).

What are the sacral nerves?

The sacral nerves are located at the bottom of the spine and convey information between the pelvis region and the brain. This includes information to and from the colon and rectum, the urinary bladder, and the genitalia. 

What is Sacral Nerve Stimulation?

Sacral Nerve Stimulation is a therapy that delivers electrical stimulation to the sacral nerves to change the communication between the bladder, bowel, and brain. When a patient suffers bladder and bowel symptoms, like incontinence, stimulation of the sacral nerves can improve the signals between the bladder, bowel, and brain to reduce the unwanted symptoms.  The sacral nerves are like messengers between the lower part of our body and the brain. They tell the brain when our bladder or bowels are full and need to be emptied. But sometimes, these nerves can’t do their job because of injuries, diseases, or other reasons. This can cause the bladder to be unable to empty (urinary retention), the need to urinate frequently and unwanted bladder accidents (overactive bladder (OAB)), or even fecal incontinence (FI).  Overactive bladder can include symptoms such as:
  • Sudden, strong urges to use the restroom even when the bladder is not full
  • Frequent urination (urinating more than 8 times in a day)
  • Nocturia (nighttime urination, or waking up to urinate more than 1 time per night)
  • Incontinence (leaks)
Sacral Nerve Stimulation, or Sacral Neuromodulation, is a special way to fix these nerve messages. It uses tiny electrical signals to change the communication between the bladder, bowel, and brain. Before trying this, doctors recommend lifestyle changes such as diet modifications or exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor. If these behavioral therapies are not successful, the doctor may prescribe medication. Sacral Neuromodulation is recommended only after these more conservative treatments (behavioral therapies and medication) have failed to provide the desired symptom relief.

How Sacral Neuromodulation works

One of the great things about Sacral Neuromodulation is that you can try the therapy before committing to long-term therapy. The first step in the therapy is to undergo a test, or trial procedure. After a one-week evaluation period, the patient and physician decide if the test was successful in improving symptoms. While there can be complications with any procedure, Sacral Neuromodulation is a safe and recommended treatment for bladder and bowel conditions. 

Conditions treated with Sacral Neuromodulation

Some of the conditions that can be treated with Sacral Nerve Stimulation include:  

The Axonics® System

The Axonics System uses Sacral Neuromodulation to treat bladder and bowel symptoms. It works by delivering mild electrical signals to the sacral nerves to help restore normal communication between the bladder and brain. The therapy includes a minimally invasive outpatient procedure and can last for at least 15-20 years. If your OAB, urinary retention, or bowel incontinence symptoms have not responded to behavioral therapies or medication, you may want to ask your doctor about Sacral Nerve Stimulation. Learn more about the Axonics System today. –  Disclaimer: Axonics does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.  Clicking links may take you to third-party sites that are not under the control of Axonics.  Although Axonics has no reason to believe the information provided by such third-party websites is not accurate, Axonics is not responsible for the content of any third-party websites and/or any links contained in the third-party websites. Axonics does not endorse or guarantee the products, information, services, or recommendations provided by linked websites.