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Sacral Nerve Stimulation


Sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) is treatment for urinary retention without blockage, overactive bladder symptoms, and fecal incontinence. Overactive bladder symptoms include urinary urge incontinence and urinary frequency. Electrical impulses are sent directly to the sacral nerves to improve or restore bladder or bowel function. Sacral nerves are in your lower back. They control anus, rectum, and bladder functioning. SNS is done when medicine and behavior therapy do not help improve symptoms. Implantation of an SNS includes 2 stages. The first stage is a trial phase to see if SNS will improve your symptoms. The second stage involves implanting the stimulator.


Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have pain at the stimulator site.
  • You have a fever.
  • Your incision is red, swollen, or has pus coming from it.
  • Your symptoms return or get worse.
  • You have new pain or new symptoms with stimulation.
  • You feel like you are being shocked with the stimulator on or off.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics help to prevent a bacterial infection
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


  • Write down your symptoms. Ask your healthcare provider how to complete the diary of symptoms.
  • Limit activity such as stretching and lifting. Ask your healthcare provider which activities you should limit and for how long.
  • Ask your healthcare provider how to care for the incision at your stimulator site.
  • Keep the programming device with you at all times.
  • Tell your healthcare providers that you have an implanted sacral nerve stimulation device.
  • Keep the card that identifies you have an implanted stimulator, with you at all times.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You will need regular visits to monitor your symptoms. Your healthcare provider will also need to check the programming of your device. Bring your diary with symptoms. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them at your visit.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.