Bladder function is regulated by a group of nerves at the base of the spine called the sacral nerve plexus. PTNS (Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation) is a treatment approved by NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) and is used for an overactive bladder. The procedure is non-invasive and is performed by using gentle electrical impulses (neuro stimulation).
The treatment involves inserting a small, slim acupuncture needle in to the skin near the ankle, then attaching an electrode.
You will be asked to sit on a chair or couch with one of your legs raised. Your nurse or consultant will clean the area and then insert the needle and attach the electrode. The electrode is then connected to a battery-powered stimulator which sends mild electrical impulses along the leg to the nerves in the pelvis that control the bladder.
The treatment lasts roughly 30 minutes.
You will be able to return to your normal daily activities as soon as the treatment is complete as no local or general anaesthetic is required.
PTNS gently modifies the signals to your bladder and will probably take at least 6-8 treatment sessions before you will see your symptoms improve. A full 12 week course is advised in order to have the best chance of success.
PTNS is a very safe procedure. However, PTNS should not be undertaken by:
- Patients with pacemakers or implantable defibrillators
- Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant during the course of the treatment
- Patients with nerve damage that could impact either percutaneous tibial nerve or pelvic floor function
- Individuals prone to excessive bleeding
PTNS is a minimally invasive treatment with 60-80% of patients reporting an improvement in their symptoms.
- Lifestyle changes such as weight loss. Other suggested approaches include elimination of alcohol, coffee, tea or carbonated drinks
- Bladder training
- Pelvic muscle exercises