Benefits and Risks – Sacral Nerve Stimulation

If you’ve tried other treatments without success or you’ve experienced intolerable side effects from medications, sacral nerve stimulation may provide you with relief from difficulties related to symptoms of overactive bladder.


Sacral nerve stimulation is reversible and can be discontinued at any time. Many people with sacral nerve stimulation have reported:

  • Improved quality of life
  • Freedom to live without worry of leaks

You and your doctor can try sacral nerve stimulation without making a big commitment.

The trial assessment involves placement of a thin wire worn in your back. The wire is connected to a small stimulator, which you'll wear on a belt. The stimulator will send mild electrical pulses through the thin wire to one of your sacral nerves, and those pulses may get your bladder working the way it's supposed to. During the trial assessment, which typically lasts 3 to 7 days, you can continue many of your daily activities with caution.


As with any medical treatment, sacral nerve stimulation may cause you to experience some of these side effects:

  • Pain at the implant site
  • Lead movement
  • Infection or skin irritation
  • Technical problems
  • Jolting or shocking stimulation
  • Adverse changes in bowel function
  • Numbness at the neurostimulator site
  • Undesirable stimulation or sensations

In most cases, these issues can be resolved, so talk to your doctor about your experience.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 22 Sep 2010

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