Catheter Pain: Causes and Ways To Prevent It

Catheter Pain: Causes and Ways To Prevent It

December 16, 2020 9:18 pm Published by Comments Off on Catheter Pain: Causes and Ways To Prevent It

For patients recovering from urological surgery and people who have developed permanent bladder incontinence, the placement of a urinary catheter is often the only option. But while the lifestyle changes that attend this procedure can be challenging on their own, so too is the pain that can come as a result of catheterization. As many as nine out of every ten patients can experience discomfort relating to the insertion of an indwelling catheter, also known as a Foley catheter. Whether catheterization is only being done in the wake of surgery or is a long-term urological solution, the pain that can develop in such a sensitive region can be unbearable, leading not only to physical pain in the affected area, but also stress, anxiety, and depression. Fortunately, with new developments in ultrasound therapy comes a way to alleviate many of the root causes of catheter-related discomfort. These are some of the common causes of catheter pain, and the ways to prevent it.

Dietary Choices

Adjusting to life with a catheter may require some minor lifestyle changes, and these adjustments should represent your first line of defense against catheter-related discomfort. Certain foods and drinks may cause bladder pain. These include, but are not limited to, carbonated beverages, caffeinated beverages, acidic or piquant food and drink, and chocolate. If you notice unusual pain associated with your catheterization, first try eliminating these problematic items from your diet. If your discomfort persists, the issue may lie with something more serious than a new intolerance for orange juice or coffee.

Drainage Bag Support

While other causes of catheter-related discomfort arise in the body, patients can address some instances of pain simply by ensuring their drainage bags are properly attached, aligned, and supported. A crimp or twist in your tubing and the ensuing buildup of pressure could be the source of significant pain. Make sure to distribute the weight of your drainage bag by maintaining proper support for the bag along your leg. A heavy and unsecured bag threatens to pull the catheter out of its placement, which would cause significant distress. The ideal location for your drainage bags, both on the leg during the day and beside your bed at night, is below the level of your bladder, allowing gravity to do its job.

Urinary Tract Infections

The primary cause of pain relating to a Foley catheter is the presence of a urinary tract infection, or UTI. These most often occur when bacteria or yeast enters the urinary tract through the catheter tube, sometimes as a result of insufficient equipment maintenance but also simply due to the bacteria and yeast that occur in the open air. Other infections may develop from your body’s gut flora which sometimes make their way into the urinary tract. This can cause burning sensations, flu-like symptoms, and discolored urine—all causes for concern.

However, doctors concentrating on the promises of ultrasound therapy have innovated a new solution for Foley catheter pain relief that eliminates many of the causes of UTIs. The NanoVibronix UroShield is one such example. The UroShield uses high-frequency ultrasound waves to precisely heat a specific location—in this case, the tube of your urinary catheter. By targeting these ultrasound waves at the catheter tube, the heat the ultrasound generates disrupts and breaks up the growth of harmful bacterial colonies, or biofilm, within the tube. Once the bacteria are unable to cling to the sides of the tube, they can be flushed out with ease and kept out of the body. Keeping your catheter tube sanitary in this fashion greatly reduces the likelihood of urinary tract infections, as well as the need for antibiotic treatment. Patients who do still require antibiotics in concert with the UroShield will find their medications have a higher efficacy: by stopping the spread of germs at the source, the body doesn’t have to fight as hard. Best of all, patients using the UroShield often require fewer equipment replacements—which means fewer uncomfortable visits to the doctor.

Bladder Spasms

Bladder spasms caused by the presence of a urinary catheter are among the more common causes of catheter-related discomfort. Catheterization involves the placement of a small balloon inside the bladder. This balloon secures the catheter’s position in the bladder, but the bladder’s natural reaction to the foreign object is to remove it. Because this is not possible under ideal circumstances, the result is acute pain near the bladder as it struggles to expel the balloon. Treating this condition at its worst often requires your doctor to prescribe anti-spasmodic medication. This will relax the bladder muscles, but carries side effects such as constipation and decreased urination, as well as nausea and bloating in less common cases.

Insufficient Lubrication

The application of a Foley catheter requires the application of a lubricant in order to prevent abrasions, infection, and scarring along the path of insertion. If you feel pain in this area, it may be due to a lack of proper lubrication at the time of insertion. To prevent both the recurrence of discomfort as well as the long-term tissue damage that insufficient lubrication can cause, do not hesitate to raise this issue with your doctor when the time comes to change out your catheter as part of a normal course of treatment. A water-based, high-viscosity lubricant is recommended for the greatest reduction in friction and safe interaction with the silicone hose.


Identifying a need for improvements in the day-to-day lives of people with long-term medical conditions, NanoVibronix has been dedicated to pioneering medical devices that employ the therapeutic benefits of ultrasound waves in the fields of pain reduction and urology. As you can see, catheterization is a process that, while quite often life-saving, is prone to complications and setbacks that can cause discouragement as well as discomfort; bladder spasms, urinary tract infections, and bag placement issues will be challenges that almost all catheterized people will have to overcome. Nonetheless, these complications are manageable—and thanks to new innovations in ultrasonic therapy—less frequent than ever. Knowing the causes of catheter pain and the ways to prevent it will help you avoid much of the adversity that can come with short-term or long-term catheterization.

Catheter Pain

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This post was written by Elyse

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