Neurogenic Bladder

In rare cases, shingles can sometimes lead to a condition known as "neurogenic bladder". In essence, the nerve damage paralyzes the bladder muscles, such that you may not feel the need to void urine, you may not be able to urinate, or you may experience urine reflux in which the urine backwashes from the bladder to the kidney.

This inability to void urine (i.e. pee) can easily lead to a urinary tract infection, bladder infection, and/or kidney infection. Urine reflux can also lead to a kidney infection as well as putting too much pressure on the kidney and thus interfering with its normal functioning.

Those who experience the opposite - incontinence - may suffer embarrassment due to odor or wetness. Urinary incontinence also leads to a heightened risk of a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Symptoms of shingles-induced neurogenic bladder include:
  • Combined pain and numbness in the affected area, and;
  • Either an inability to urinate, or;
  • Significantly reduced output of urine, or;
  • Inability to feel the need to void, or;
  • Incontinence.
While the presence of pain alongside numbness may seem contradictory, it is an unmistakeable sensation for those experiencing it. Those suffering from shingles-induced neurogenic bladder may need to be catheterized in order to empty the bladder.

The longer the pain from shingles persists, the higher the risk of developing neurogenic bladder. Likewise, the sooner pain can be managed after contracting neurogenic bladder, the better the chances for an eventual full recovery of bladder function. In other words, for both prevention and treatment, pain management is key.

See also: Neurogenic Bowel