Is there any emprical evidence of pee-pee dance efficacy?
December 2, 2013 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Are there any published scientific studies of whether the 'pee-pee' dance is actually useful in either delaying urination onset or alleviating discomfort?
posted by srboisvert to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Pedsurology is not a scientific study, but it does explain the "pee pee dance"

Overactive Bladder and Voiding Dysfunction

Children may suffer from “overactive bladder” activity during the day. They will respond to this in a variety of ways. Some will run to the bathroom and be able to stay dry. Others may run to the bathroom but will lose urine on the way and dampen their underwear. Others will try to postpone urination in a very different, abnormal way. A normal adult can postpone urination without doing anything. They don’t need to tighten the muscles that hold urine back (the sphincter muscles). They can do this consciously, for example when they are involved in something they want to continue doing and they decide to wait. The bladder remains relaxed and will not try to empty. This postponement can also occur unconsciously. When they are ready to urinate, the bladder contracts and the muscles that hold back urine will simultaneously relax. The emptying of the bladder is low pressure because of the coordinated contraction of the bladder and relaxation of the sphincters.

Infants urinate in a very healthy way. The bladder will automatically contract, as a reflex, and the sphincters automatically relax. This is very healthy because the bladder pressure needed to empty the urine is low. However, it’s not very sociable! Some children are able to postpone urination in the same way as adults, but many cannot. This can be due to many of the factors mentioned above, but it can also be due to “immaturity” of their nervous system so that they recognize the urge to urinate before they have developed the ability to postpone urination. They feel the sudden need to urinate, but are unable to keep their bladders from trying to empty. They learn to stay dry by blocking the flow of urine because they are unable to postpone urination. Some of these children will dance (“pee-pee dance”), others will stand very still and some girls will even sit down on the heel of their foot in order to put pressure on the urethra and block urine flow (“curtsy sign”). Obstruction and incomplete emptying are bad for the bladder and can lead to an overactive bladder. This pattern of behavior can become the only way these children are able to control their overactive bladders. This is a common cause of what we call voiding dysfunction. Voiding dysfunction is also very frequently associated with constipation. Normal, low-pressure, complete emptying of the bladder is one of the best defenses against urinary tract infection. Because they do not urinate normally, these children have a much higher rate of urinary tract infections. Fortunately, biofeedback training can be used to teach these children how to relax their bladder sphincters during urination and, along with management of their constipation, we can help them become dry and reduce the rate of urine infections.

posted by JujuB at 8:12 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't know of any specific studies pertaining to the pee-pee dance, but "alleviating discomfort" is not a stretch. Most people are familiar with the automatic reaction when f.ex. stubbing a toe - you might start hopping on a leg while keeping the other leg with the stubbed foot elevated, or you might start swinging your foot. If you hurt your arm, you might grip it just above the place of impact, and so forth. These are all instinctive reactions, and don't seem learned - because we can observe the same actions across various cultures.

Most likely, what is happening on a neurological level, is a distraction effect - if you are hurt in one area, any action that distracts you from the area of pain, divides your attention, and so you pay less attention to the hurt area (since you have to concentrate on the other action - such as hopping etc.). This btw. is frequently coupled with "fighting pain with pain", as when, f.ex. you dig in your fingernails until it hurts, so that distracts from original pain.

I think it's possible that the pee-pee dance fulfills a similar function, allowing the dancer to alleviate some of the discomfort. Whether that also is helpful in delaying urination onset I have no idea, though I suppose it might stand to reason that if you diminish the discomfort, you might be able to take the lower level of discomfort for a longer time, thus delaying the urination onset. Again, this is speculation, as I have not come across studies on this particular issue.
posted by VikingSword at 9:59 PM on December 2, 2013

Mythbusters tested it and say it is plausible. Although from reading the times as reported in the wiki article, it seems like it actually hurt rather than helped. Plus the sample set is VERY small.
posted by willnot at 10:10 PM on December 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have read that the back of the calf is an accupressure point to reduce the urge to pee. It's distracting, at least, to use one foot the rub the back of the other calf.
posted by theora55 at 10:39 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

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