Interstitial Cystitis (IC) – What Is it?

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) – What Is it?

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) or Bladder pain syndrome (BPS) is a chronic pain condition with pain experienced in the lower abdominal or bladder region.

 

IC affects men and women of all ages. IC is more common in women than men (10:1 ratio). Interstitial Cystitis or Painful bladder syndrome is common in women with endometriosis. Men with Interstitial Cystitis or Painful bladder syndrome are sometimes told that they have prostatitis, when the pain is coming from the bladder rather than the prostate.

 

How common is it?

The incidence of BPS or IC is unclear. Estimate range from 8 to 1600 per 100,000.

 

 What are the causes?

The exact cause of IC or BPS is unknown.

 

What are the symptoms?

Interstitial Cystitis or Bladder pain syndrome can present as:

  • Pain in the lower abdominal or bladder region
  • Pain can also be felt throughout the pelvis (vagina, rectum, urethra, vulva).
  • Pain can sometime be worse with bladder fullness and relieved with emptying the bladder
  • May be associated with bladder urgency or bladder frequency (voiding many times during the day) or nocturia (voiding several times overnight).
  • May cause painful intercourse (in women)
  • May also be associated with bowel symptoms

 

How is it diagnosed?

Although symptoms or IC or BPS can feel like a bladder infection, there is no proven infection. If you are having any symptoms, you should see your doctor to exclude other causes of your pain. IC or BPS is diagnosed when other causes (including infection) have been excluded.

 

What is the treatment?

Physiotherapy that has specialised training in pelvic floor physiotherapy can help. Physiotherapy treatment may include:

  • Fluid, bladder and bowel advice
  • Exercises that may help
  • Abdominal/ pelvis/ back soft tissue releases may also help
  • Pelvic floor relaxation exercises
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may also provide relief

 

If you are having ongoing issues, a referral to a urologist or urogynecologist may also be needed for further assessment or medical management.

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