Pain relief for bladder spasms

Join our support group if you would like to get some advice from families with children who have had ureteral reimplantation surgery.

While there is not one single effective treatment for bladder spasms, I have collected a list of pain relief methods or drugs that may offer some relief for bladder spasms. Thank you to all families and individuals for their contribution:


Advice from Elaine, a critical care nurse with 30 years experience:


  • Sitz baths
  • Warm peri-wash while urinating. It helps with the burning sensation while urinating.
  • Pain, pain, go away: helping children with pain (booklet in pdf)
  • Acupuncture. My GP thought it was worth a try since acupuncture works for various muscle spasms and the bladder is, after all, a muscle.
  • Watching favourite movies, particularly funny ones, may take your child’s mind off pain for a while
  • Graze on high fiber foods: blueberries, fig newtons, raisin bran, etc to relieve constipation the natural way
  • Diet high in magnesium: salmon, almonds, nuts, fresh greens. Magnesium is supposed to alleviate bladder spasms
  • A heating pad right when the spasm starts is comforting
  • Homeopathic therapy
  • Mt Retour Essential Oil – Tranquil Blend: 3 drops straight into 10 mls carrier oil (sweet almond or olive oil or Apricot). Roman Chamomile is anti spasmodic but must not be used straight. Use as a massage oil for back and soles of feet

If you’re reading this because your child is suffering bladder spasms after surgery, feel free to share your experience with the rest of us, ask questions or contribute some tips for coping with bladder spasms on our Yahoo! support group for ureteral reimplantation. To participate in the group you’ll need to join first but if you would only like to browse you can do so without joining.

Read an account of ureteral reimplantation on a 6 year old girl and postoperative bladder spasms.


33 thoughts on “Pain relief for bladder spasms

  1. my 10 year old daughter will be having ureter re-implantation surgery next week. I am looking for help to ease her bladder spasms!
    Thank you

  2. My 7 yr. Old daughter had this procedure done 3 days ago, she’s experiencing painful bladder spasms, she’s taking ditropan and it doesn’t help much, the Tylenol then ibuprofen for pain, is very short lived. They also have me a script for oxycodone has anyone ever gotten this prescribed ?? And if they did, how did it work? I know it’s a good pain killer, I know a couple adults who take it.

  3. Hello my name is Melissa, I am 28 years old and I have been living with duplicated ureters all of my life. I’ve had multiple bladder and kidney infections all of my life. When I was 4ish I had surgery to enlarge one of my ureter openings to let more urine flow throw my kidney (which caused a lot of problems now). I’ve had a bladder infection almost every month for 28 years. I was hospitalize while I was pregnant with my daughter because of a kidney infection, I almost lost my baby because of this.

    Just recently, I have been going to a urologist because of blood in my urine. (The blood was not visible to the naked eye, but under a microscope) I’ve always had blood in my urine every time they looked at it under a microscope. Since then, I’ve had testing after testing done. They found the same enlarged ureter opening was now refluxing, and half of my left kidney was severely damaged. The urologist wanted to try and fix this without having an invasive surgery. I had the surgery (Defluxing) done in Feb. The doctor told my husband he didn’t think it would work because of the size of the opening of ureter. He used 5ml to try to close the opening. 6 weeks later I went in for more testing, the surgery failed. By this time, my urologist said we need to have a partial nephrectomy done. So June 10th I went in and had half of left kidney removed and most of the refluxing ureter. I am still having bladder and kidney infections almost every mouth with red blood and white blood cells in my urine, even when I don’t have an infection. Just so you know bladder spasms are just like having contracts when in active labor. I also having bladder weakness, if I sneeze, cough, jump, or anything sudden, I will urinate a little. I hope one day this will be fixed, sooner the better.

    Melissa M.
    If anyone wants to email me for more info, my email is

  4. I would advise against watching comedies, im a 17 yr old female and had this surgery 4 days ago and although they say laughter’s the best medicine it causes bladder spasms sometimes, and if im already having one it intensifies it to an unbearable burning sensation. The same goes for coughing and sneezing. Sneezing is probably the worst in my opinion.

  5. My 10mo son has the surgery last week (10/2/2011). We were in hospital for 5 days, and during this time he only suffered a couple of the bladder spasms, however they were excruciating for him. The doctors believed the pain was simply from having the catheter in so they discharged us on the day they removed the drain with only Ibuprofen and Paracetamol to manage the pain.

    2 days later and he’s in agonising pain throughout the day and night. It makes me so upset. He can only crawl but he buries his head in the ground/bed and trys to crawl away from the pain whilst sweating and screaming this very guttural and terrifying scream. I can’t do a thing for him except hold him and offer him comfort breastfeeds to help him calm down once it is all over. They last anywhere between 20 – 60secs and seem to come in bouts.

    I wish I could do more for him, but the Drs won’t prescribe anything stronger. I do hope the spasms reduce in their ferocity soon. I worry that that the stress will be bad for his recovery

  6. Hello,

    My son has had bladder spasms for 10 years. The doctors didn’t want to place him on anything for the pain since the medication can cause constipation. Well, my son just had ileostomy surgery, and since then, the spasms have been severe. Our doctor has placed him on Ditropan. This has helped a bit. We were told that we had to catheterize him every 4 hours to empty his bladder and eleviate the spasms. We were also told that being on Ditropan, he would not feel the urge to urinate as frequently. Oh, boy! Is he ever in discomfort! We are catheterizing him every 2-3 hours for large amounts of urine. He is in a lot of pain, and the doctor doesn’t think he needs anything else but the ditropan.
    Could he be on the wrong med? Any advise would be great.
    Thank you.

  7. Hi all, we just brough my 22 month old son home from the hospital on friday 6/19/2010 after having bilateral reimplantation. I can relate to your comments and concerns especially with regards to the bladder spasms. I was not well prepared for the excruciating pain my son is currently suffering. I understood that this was major surgery and as with any surgery there is discomfort and pain afterwards, however the frequency and intesity of bladder spasm was unexpected and difficult to deal with. Medicine helps but children still feel extreme pain.

  8. Christina

    The pain will eventually go away but I don’t know how long it’ll last for. Hopefully not long.

  9. my child is only 3 years old. she has just starting to have bladder spasms so the doctor said. she gets down in the floor with bad pain. he has got her on oxybutynin for the spasms. but it ‘s working on the wetting and some of the pain. will this last forever or go away on it’s on.

  10. Valorie

    My daughter was 6 at the time she had the operation and we went back home, 300 kms away, the way we went to the hospital, on the back of the car, with a seat belt on. The way back wasn’t fun because bumps on the road triggered bladder spasms. If it hadn’t been for the bladder spasms the way back would have been just fine. Depending how far away you’re going you may consider taking a plane.

  11. My 2 yr old will be having the reimplantion surgery in Janurary 2010! She is not potty trained yet, will the peri wash still help her? And another question- how did you bring your child home from the hospital? Being 2 she is still in a carseat and with Ohio state law she has to be! But I am very conserned about the amount of pain she will be in on the way home! Thanks!

  12. It went extremely well. I had prepared for the worst in terms of the recovery and it went so smoothly I almost didn’t believe it. Keep in mind he didn’t have a very complex surgery – just the straight forward bilat reimplant and that’s all.

    It was an absolute nightmare before surgery. He was hysterical for nearly 20 minutes before because he was so hungry. That part I had totally forgotten about. Nothing could distract him so depending on the personality of your child, I might bring some new toys to distract him/her. After surgery, he was so groggy but (thank goodness) super hungry. The nurse let him gobble down crackers and drink tons of water. Well within 10 minutes he was throwing up like crazy. So definitely monitor what your child is eating/drinking immediately after.

    He went up to recovery pretty quickly. He had had a spinal block (I didn’t know this until that morning) which was scary but a really good thing. As he came out of anesthesia, he was happy and hungry. He wasn’t even that mad/distracted about the IV or cathedar. We brought some Disney movies and played them most of the afternoon and my very busy child was fine just sitting and watching. He did not appear to be in any discomfort. They had him on Ditropan (?) that day, until the next morning. We had one glitch I’d say and that was that he pulled out his IV that evening. It freaked me out but the nurse came and put it right back in without much fuss. By that night, he wanted to walk around and play in the play room. I was stunned. He slept great, even with the nurse coming in giving him his meds.
    Next morning late, they removed his cathedar and he actually pooped. I never thought I’d be so happy to change a poopy diaper. They sent us home with no pain meds at all and just recommended alternating Tylenol and Motrin every 3 hours. Again, I was so scared but honestly, it worked great!!! He did have bladder spasms every time he peed for 3-4 days that would stop him in his tracks. But while he cried, he recovered seconds later and kept on playing. He was on Tylenol and Motrin for about a week at which point he went back to day care and was about back to normal. His diapers were slightly bloody for about 3 days but that’s it.
    My son has never been a good sleeper, waking multiple times per night but since the day after surgery, he sleeps better. He still gets up but he doesn’t act like he’s in pain anymore. So recovery at home went just fine, even at night.
    Hope this helps.

  13. Our 20-month old underwent surgery for unilateral ureter reimplantation due to an obstructed ureter they found while I was still pregnant with him.

    This has been our experience so far in terms of pain management:
    Day 1: morphine injection via codaul post-op, then daily regime of ketorolac via IV every 6 hrs and ditropal orally every 12 hrs. Tylenol given by suppository every 6 hours. Antibiotics given via IV
    Day 3: IV removed. Tyelnol only given as needed, orally.
    Day 4: (today) still has catheter for bladder and stent for ureter that was reimplanted. During the day, we can generally distract him when he experiences discomfort.

  14. Elaine
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience in this area.

    In my short experience at hospital I felt the nurses knew best about bladder spasms than anyone else. It was obvious they saw lots of kids having bladder spasms.

    At the other extreme we had the urologist puzzled by the extreme pain my daughter was in – as if it was unusual. I wouldn’t describe 10% of kids between 6 to 12 years suffering bladder spasms after ureteral reimplantaion surgery as something unusual.

    You make a good point there about the focus doctors have on the cure. I think doctors should spend more time with patients after surgery so that they can see that yes, the operation was a “success” like they like to put it, but was do they make of the suffering the patients go through as a consequence of surgery.

    My daughter’s scars from surgery are still there as fresh as the first day. And I’m not referring to the physical ones. She’s so scared of any pain, no matter how small. She was never like that before surgery. I often wonder if she’ll ever get over the excruciating experience of suffering bladder spasms for such a long time.

  15. Firstly, huge commiseration to all children and adults with bladder spasm.
    I am a critical care nurse and have been in these areas since 1979. If there is one thing that causes the most distress and is of the least concern to medical staff is bladder spasm. I found your site by attempting to find info. on the internet regarding this topic. The only way to decrease the intensity of bladder spasm which can be severe simply by having a catheter and without a procedure, is to provide relaxation in the acute phase with intravenous sedation, especially Midazolam. Subsequent oral relaxation occurs with the drug Oxybutinin. This is problematic in the elderly because 2% of people treated with this drug may experience confusion – many many elderly are confused because of short term memory loss. The issue is horrendous and the attitudes of medical staff deplorable. If a patient requires expert nursing with IV sedation, then so be it. Then we have the problem of taking up precious beds in a hospital for ‘minor’ ailments. The whole topic is of major concern, especially when the elderly are denied analgesia for fear of exacerbation of confusion symptoms. Children experience severe pain because they haven’t had the effect of pain instilled into their memory banks – it is an experience that is so new to them and they have no time to prepare for acute pain. Any pain needs adequate analgesia, otherwise what is the point of medicine? All we really want is symptom relief. Doctors, however, focus on the cure. I wonder how focused they’ll be when they are 80 years old and suffering.

  16. My 18 month old son is scheduled for this surgery on June 17th – bilateral. He was diagnosed with grade IV-V reflux and has been on daily antibiotics since birth. I have been reading about bladder spasms since learning (while I was pregnant) he might require this surgery and I am terrified. My son has always been fussy and appears to have a very low tolerance to pain. Our urologist also claimed all he’ll need is Tylenol but after reading these posts I’m extremely concerned.
    Has anyone seen their children continuing to experience bladder pain months after surgery or longer?
    And secondly, when were your children able to be up and walking?
    This may sound crazy but I’m stressing about how I’m going to put my son in his car seat after surgery with the incision above his pubic bone. Do they have issues sitting up or laying on their tummies?

  17. Thank you for your website, I’m in my 20s and have just found out that I have stage IV duplication and will be going for the surgery in about a month. Knowing in advance what to expect so I can prepare is very comforting.

    My only concern is be careful with the heating pad. Heaven forbid theres an infection from the surgery the heat will spead the growth of the infection.

  18. My son who is 4 had stents fitted 5 days ago and is really in a lot of pain doind the toilet and also when drinking, can anyone help with any advice.
    He is also suffering from the bladder spasams


  19. My 3 yr old son is having ureteral reimplantation surgery in 3 weeks and I am very concerned about the bladder spasms afterward. I found a study about the drug ketorolac that was successful in treating the spasms. Has anyone else heard of this or used it for the bladder spasms?

  20. I have heard of the drug. The study I have read only seems to apply to a hospital in Melbourne. I don’t know if it’s available anywhere else. We were never offered that drug at a Sydney hospital. I suppose you’ll have to ask your surgeon and your anesthetist about both bladder spasms and pain relief. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if you also talked to the nurses at the hospital about your concern. Bear in mind not all kids have bladder spasms. Our anesthetist said that boys had an easier time and the younger the less likely it was they would have bladder spasms. I think it’s a bit like the lottery.

  21. My 20 m.o. daughter is having ureteral reimplantation in February for VUR. Antibiotic therapy did not help and neither did the deflux procedure.

  22. Does anyone know a doctor who has prescribed Ditropan post-surgery for bladder spasms? My 2.5 year old daughter had surgery 4 days ago and is having spasms fairly frequently. When they discharged us they said “Just give Tylenol” but it doesn’t seem to help much!

  23. I am so sorry to hear that. It does get better. We are two weeks out from our surgery today and it is dramatically different. Try holding him and try ibuprofen. Our doctor told us tylenol would not touch the pain! Good Luck!

    Michelle J

  24. My 5 yr old son had surgery 5 days ago. About twice a day he will just start screaming for about half an hour that it” hurts so bad”. I just don’t even know what to do for him other than to hold him. We are giving him Tylenol like clock work but the two episodes per day are just aweful. Any suggestions?? I know he says it hurts when he urinates but he gets through those spasms ok. Its just the big ones that I dont know what to do about!!!I feel so helpless!!!

  25. We tried a couple of the suggestions that others had posted as well as suggestions we read on other sites. A couple places we looked at suggested that constipation can aggravate bladder spasms. Another thing we read stated that magnesium could help improve bladder spasms. Finally, we read about the power of positive talk. We were going to try anything and everything. I went to the store and purchased the kinds of foods that cause our son to have a bowl movement, blueberries, fig newtons, raisin bran. We let him eat freely on these foods through out the day as well as foods high in magnesium, salmon, almonds, nuts, fresh greens. (We choose to stay away from any sort of laxative. Generally laxatives draw water to the colon and away from the rest of the body. We did not want to do this as children with this procedure need to stay very hydrated and the natural way seemed like the best first approach.) Lastly, we have really been focusing on telling Eli how healthy he is. We tell Eli frequently how great it is that his body is doing such a great job at getting better so quickly.
    Eli did not have one bladder spasm last night. He is sleeping right now and so far no bladder spasms. We are not sure what did the trick or if was anything we did. Honestly, we are just elated that he is not experiencing these terrible bladder spasms any more.

    Thank you for your website!

  26. My son had ureter reimplantation surgery on both sides 5 days ago. His bladder spasms began yesterday and are shocking! He is in SO much pain. We are not sure what to do. I can not believe the comments that I am reading that these will last for another 2-3 weeks or longer. We are searching for any advice on how to help him. We are discovering that they are worse at night.
    For some reason he reports the pain is coming from his bottom. Has anyone else’s child stated this as well?
    I am so glad I found this website.

  27. I forgot to add my advice (got caught up in venting, sorry)…

    I have been using a warm peri-wash as she urinates which seems to help with the burning during urination, it does not help the spasms that follow, but it is something.

  28. My daughter continues to have moderate bladder spasms every night (around midnight) and underwent ureterak reimplant surgery almost three weeks ago.

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