Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome

Interstitial cystitis, also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome, is a chronic pain condition that results in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and surrounding pelvic region. It’s been estimated that as many as four million men and women are living with this condition, which can lead to irritation, inflammation, scarring, and stiffening of the bladder tissue.

People with interstitial cystitis often feel like they have a bladder infection even if they test negative for one. Common symptoms are:

It’s also thought that glomerulations (pinpoint bleeding) in the bladder wall and Hunner’s ulcers (patches of broken skin found on the bladder wall) are present in about 10 percent of people with interstitial cystitis.

The frequency and severity of interstitial cystitis symptoms will vary from person to person. In women, symptoms are often worse during certain points in their menstrual cycle. Many people also find that stress and the consumption of certain foods and beverages—such as citrus fruits, spicy foods, tomatoes, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks—can make their symptoms worse.

Diagnosing interstitial cystitis can be difficult, since the condition is often mistaken for other health problems. Usually, a variety of tests are needed to rule out other conditions and lead to an accurate diagnosis, including urinanalysis, bladder wall biopsy, and cystoscopy.

The exact cause of interstitial cystitis isn’t known. It’s possible that a history of recurrent bacterial infections, genetics, underlying immune disorders, and even pelvic floor dysfunction could play a role in its development. Even without a clear cause, however, treatment options are available. These evidence based options include pelvic floor exercises and manual therapy to restore pelvic floor function, bladder training programs, and lifestyle counseling, in addition to other medical or surgical interventions in advanced cases.

Have you been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis and would like to see how pelvic floor physical therapy in Bethesda, MD or McLean, VA could help you find relief? Contact ITR Physical Therapy of and schedule an appointment today.

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