Urge incontinence, the involuntary loss of urine that is associated with a sense of urinary urgency, is extremely common and affects an estimated 13 million people in the United States. While the exact cause of this disorder is unknown it is thought that the bladder becomes overactive and spasms during filling with urine.
Botox injections works by paralyzing selective areas of bladder muscle, which helps decrease unwanted bladder contractions. Maximum relief is usually seen seven days after injection and normally lasts six to 12 months. Repeat injections are often needed.
The six-month study conducted by Duke University Medical Center, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicated that patients who received Botox had a two-fold higher likelihood of achieving complete resolution of their incontinence as compared to those patients taking pills.
The Botox treatment is already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for urge incontinence due to known neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and spinal cord trauma. But physicians are allowed to use their own judgment to prescribe Botox to treat overactive bladder from other causes.