Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is also called painful bladder syndrome (PBS) or bladder pain syndrome (BPS) and can fall into the category of chronic pelvic pain (CPP). This issue effects 3-5 million people in the US, mostly women. This syndrome is defined as chronic pain symptoms relating to the urinary tract that exceeds more than 6 weeks, with an absence of infection. IC is an inflammatory disease that affects the lining of the bladder and can cause ulceration, scarring, and stiffening of the bladder tissue.
Symptoms of IC include pain with urination, increased urinary frequency and urgency, suprapubic and abdominal discomfort. The exact cause of IC is unknown, but it is thought that the bladder lining composition plays a part in the disease. Doctors and researchers have suggested that altered permeability of the bladder wall and a decrease in protective proteins can be responsible for the sensitivity, inflammation, and ulcers. The weakened bladder wall can lead to a negative reaction when certain foods are eaten and processed through the bladder. This is why patients with IC are encouraged to follow a specific diet that limits caffeine, acidic and spicy foods, and artificial additives.
IC is managed with diet, medication, stress relieving techniques, and pelvic floor physical therapy. Here at Anderson Physical Therapy Associates, our physical therapists are trained to treat pelvic floor disorders, including interstitial cystitis. Physical therapy can help you manage the effects of IC by providing manual treatment to release the restricted and tightened tissues surrounding the bladder. By releasing the pelvic floor and abdominal wall, a patient can experience a decrease in urgency and frequency. PT can also help by providing behavioral techniques that increase the patient’s tolerance to holding or storing more urine in the bladder. Relief in pain and urgency/frequency can greatly increase patients quality of life and allow them to participate more independently in their daily activities.