How Does Tibial Nerve Stimulation Treat Bladder Issues?

Updated: Apr 19, 2021

Suffering from overactive bladder or incontinence, but unable to use a probe with your Kegel8?

Don’t worry you’re not the only one.

Whether you suffer from vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy, or if you just don’t want to use a vaginal or anal probe, you can still use your Kegel8 device to strengthen and maintain your pelvic floor.


The Kegel8 electrode pads can help stimulate the right nerves to do the job.

Read on to learn more…

What is the Tibial Nerve?

The tibial nerve branches off from the sciatic nerve and courses down the back of the leg, terminating in the foot.

The tibial nerve supplies the hamstring muscles, the muscles of the back of the leg, the skin on the back of the leg and on the sole of the foot.

The tibial nerve contains mixed sensory motor nerve fibres that originate from the same spinal segments as the nerves to the bladder and pelvic floor.

What is Tibial Nerve Stimulation?

Tibial Nerve Stimulation is the process of stimulating the tibial nerve in the ankle in order to reduce bladder hyperactivity, either through needle insertion or electrode pads.

Usually this takes place after behavioural modifications, manual Kegel exercises and failure of medications however, tibial nerve stimulation can be done together with all of the above mentioned strategies.

How Does Tibial Nerve Stimulation Work?

Tibial Nerve Stimulation is designed to stimulate indirectly the nerves responsible for bladder control. The nerve is stimulated either with a needle (Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation) or through less-invasive electrode pads (Transcutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation).

When the nerves and the brain stop communicating properly, the bladder or bowels may not function as they should.

Tibial nerve stimulation involves a small electrical current that imitates the signal sent to our brain to trigger a muscle contraction. This current passes up the tibial nerve and manipulates a response in the pelvic floor. The electrical impulses travel along your nerve pathways and help to retrain your bladder function, alleviating overactive bladder symptoms.

This stimulation of the tibial nerve often produces a typical motor (fanning of the toes) and sensory (tingling in the ankle, foot, or toes) response.

Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation

Percutaneous stimulation of the tibial nerve is a form of electro-acupuncture that involves inserting a fine needle into a nerve just above the ankle. A mild electrical current is passed through this needle and carried up to the nerves that control bladder function. A surface electrode is also placed on the foot. These are both connected to a low-voltage stimulator.

Stimulating the tibial nerve via needle is only used in a clinical setting. Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation (PTNS) treatment usually consists of 12 outpatient sessions lasting 30 minutes each, typically a week apart.

Further sessions may be needed for long term relief.

Transcutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation

Transcutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation works by using electrode pads solely to stimulate the tibial nerve, as opposed to a needle insertion every week for 12 weeks.

In France, one study demonstrated an 80% clinical improvement of overactive bladder syndrome in patients.

Many other studies have also concluded that there are beneficial effects of stimulating nerves in the foot in order to control bladder spasms.

Pelvic Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy (POGP) acknowledged that anecdotal evidence suggests Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) to be useful, especially in cases where a patient cannot perform a successful pelvic floor muscle contraction by themselves. The statement from the POGP also reported that there is some empirical evidence to suggest that NMES alone is as useful as pelvic floor muscle training, and can be useful in the management of overactive bladder symptoms (POGP, 2019).

Specialists and Physiotherapists should be aware that some patients will experience discomfort or pain when using NMES equipment (Chêne et al, 2013) - using the Kegel8 Ultra 20 or V for Men sensitivity test (Programme 1 / P01) at low levels with slow increases, which in some cases may take some time, will help to increase their tolerance levels.

What are the Benefits of Tibial Nerve Stimulation?

Non-invasive – When only using electrode pads to cure your overactive bladder syndrome, then tibial nerve stimulation is completely non-invasive. If you choose Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation (using an electric needle), the procedure is still a lot less-invasive than other surgical treatments that are available.

Pain-free – Whether you choose electrode pads or the electric needle to stimulate your tibial nerve, the procedure is commonly painless, producing a tingling sensation at most.

High efficacy – The cure and improvement rates of overactive bladder syndrome are typically quite high when the patient has undergone tibial nerve stimulation. In most studies, around 80-96% of patients report that their incontinence has improved and even cured as a result of tibial nerve stimulation.

An all-round winner – Tibial nerve stimulation not only helps to treat overactive bladder syndrome but is also recommended by NICE to treat faecal incontinence.

How does Kegel8 Use Tibial Nerve Stimulation?

With the view to create a non-invasive form of treating the pelvic floor muscles by electrical stimulation, Kegel8 programmed the Kegel8 Ultra 20 Electronic Pelvic Toner for women, and the Kegel8 V for Men Pelvic Toner, to work with electrode pads, in addition to the probe included in the package.

Kegel8’s Ultra 20 Electronic Pelvic Toner already incorporates tibial nerve stimulation into its set list of programmes.

Packed with 20 programmes to target a multitude of pelvic floor conditions and disorders, the Kegel8 Ultra 20 also has programmes that are dedicated to using electrode pads instead of the more invasive probe.

Programme 9, in particular, targets overactive bladder syndrome by using ankle electrodes to stimulate the tibial nerve. You can also use this programme with a probe as well to thoroughly target your pelvic floor.

If you’re using the Kegel8 V for Men, programme 6 can help to treat overactive bladder by stimulating the tibial nerve.

Important Note:

Take care when increasing the power to your electrode pads as your skin is sensitive. We recommend that you do not increase the power above 15mA, as a power higher than this could cause physical harm (skin burns). Power greater than 15mA could also cause damage to your electrode pads. You should be extra careful when using the probe and electrode pads at the same time, as the probe will need a much higher amount of power (usually 30mA or more)

Kegel8 electronic devices also provide Sacral nerve stimulation using neuromuscular electrical stimulations (NMES) to reset the faulty nerves that cause bladder and bowel dysfunction, as well as pelvic pain.

Read more about Sacral Nerve Stimulation for both Men and Women

Buy your Ultra 20 here! Buy your V-for-Men here!

Order Kegel8 Biofeedback Pelvic Trainer here!


Original article: Kegel8 Website

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