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What is urinary retention?

Urinary retention is when you are unable to empty your bladder despite feeling like you need to. Usually when the bladder begins to fill up, messages are sent to the brain via the spinal cord which sends further message back down to the bladder to contract and release urine whilst the internal sphincter relaxes to assist the process.

If you have urinary retention, the messages from the bladder may not reach the brain to instruct the bladder to contract and release urine. Urinary retention can also be caused by a blockage in the bladder which prevents any urine from being released. have specialist physiotherapists that will be able to provide you with a comprehensive assessment and work with you to create a physiotherapy programme to help minimise your symptoms as quickly as possible.

Pelvic floor and abdominal exercises supervised by a specialist physiotherapistAbove: Pelvic floor and abdominal exercises supervised by a specialist physiotherapist

What causes urinary retention?

Urinary retention can be caused by a number of factors and it is important that you try and manage your condition early on in order to promote an effective recovery. The physiotherapists at are aware of the different reasons behind urinary retention and will be able to devise an effective treatment plan accordingly. The causes of urinary retention may include:
  • Pregnancy related problems
  • Enlargement of the prostate due to cancer or infection
  • Trauma to the area
  • Damage to the nerves that inform the bladder to contract
  • Swelling

What symptoms will I have?

Urinary retention can cause a variety of symptoms including:
  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Small leakage from the bladder but not enough to relieve other symptoms
  • Low back pain
  • A constant feeling of needing to urinate which is never completely stopped

What physiotherapy treatment will I receive for urinary retention?

The physiotherapists at will provide you with a comprehensive assessment and will then decide the appropriate treatment plan to suit you. Physiotherapy may include:
  • Pelvic floor strengthening exercises
  • Weighted cones to help you continue with your pelvic floor exercises
  • Controlled breathing and relaxation exercises
  • Advice on comfortable positioning
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Biofeedback to show you how well you are using your internal muscles
  • Electrical stimulation to help with the contraction of the bladder


Urinary retention is when you are unable to fully empty your bladder despite needing to. The physiotherapists at can work with you to create a comprehensive treatment plan to help reduce your symptoms and optimise your recovery. Call on 0330 088 7800 to book an appointment today. You can also book an appointment with us online today!

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