Painful Bladder Syndrome


Or “interstitial cystitis” can cause bladder pressure, bladder pain, frequent urination, pelvic pain and pain during sex.

Interstitial Cystitis / Painful Bladder Syndrome

Interstitial cystitis (IC) or Painful Bladder Syndrome is described as an unpleasant sensation (chronic pain, pressure or discomfort) thought to be related to the bladder and this sensation has been present for more than 6 weeks. The condition is not associated with an infection or other identifiable cause.

The nerves of the bladder originate in the lower spine and cover a large area of the pelvis. This may explain why some people will feel discomfort in their lower abdomen, along the outside of the vagina (vulva), the opening of the bladder ( urethra) , the vagina or even the rectum.

The cause of interstitial cystitis is not completely understood but is thought to be related to an incomplete protective barrier layer on the inside of the bladder. This allows urine to leak out into the bladder muscle and cause symptoms of urgency, frequency , and bladder and/or pevlice pain. Other possibilities include an exaggerated allergy response, or pelvic muscle spasm.

The diagnosis of interstitial cystitis can be made with a thorough history and physical to include a pelvic exam. A urine specimen may be required to evaluate for infection. A symptom questionnaire may be administered to help make the diagnosis. Other tests may include looking into the bladder with a telescope while the bladder is being filled with water ( cystoscopy with hydrodistention).

Treatment strategies often include dietary restriction of bladder irritants such as acidic foods, caffeine and alcohol. Oral medications may also be given to reduce the symptoms. In some cases, medications are placed or instilled into the bladder with a tiny catheter to allow the medication to come into direct contact with the bladder wall. Techniques of stress reduction are quite helpful to lessen the symptoms associated with the painful bladder. Often, physical therapists trained in the area of the “pelvic floor” are recruited to help with therapy, providing not only assistance with the muscles of the pelvic floor but also the nerves.

If you feel that you may have a painful bladder condition then please call our office to schedule an appointment. Our trained staff members will be glad to meet with you and suggest a care plan to help manage your symptoms and improve your day to day life.