Interstitial Cystitis (IC) or Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the deep and muscular layers of the bladder. According to the New American IC/BPS Guidelines (2009) the disorder is characterized as:
“an unpleasant sensation (pain, pressure, discomfort) perceived to be related to the urinary bladder, associated with lower urinary tract symptoms of more than 6 weeks duration, in the absence of infection or other identifiable causes.”
Most people mistake the symptoms as a urinary tract infection, however urine tests do not reveal infection. Most patients have been suffering from this condition for several months to years before being properly diagnosed. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, you are NOT alone. It has been suggested that up to 12% of women in the US may be affected by symptoms of IC/PBS. Although more prevalent in women, IC/PBS can affect both men and women. It can be extremely debilitating. The symptoms of IC/PBS can range from mild to severe and often coincide with pelvic floor tension and muscle spasms. Although presentation can vary greatly among people there are often common symptoms.
The symptoms of IC/PBS can range from mild to severe and often coincide with pelvic floor tightness and muscle spasms. IC/ PBS is poorly understood; however, more research is being performed in this area. While the cause is unknown, studies suggest a multifactorial influence and several different variations of the disease process.
Patients with a possible diagnosis of IC/ PBS may require a procedure called a cystoscopy. A cystoscopy allows a physician to examine the bladder for any signs of bladder wall inflammation. This helps to determine a course of treatment. Many people have a negative cystoscopy, yet still suffer from bladder symptoms. In these cases, the diagnosis of IC/PBS is based on patient’s symptoms rather than positive cystoscopy findings.
Until recently, the typical course of treatment was medication and dietary changes. However, recent research has shown that physical therapy for IC/PBS can help many patients. You may be asking, “How can physical therapy help?” Physical therapists who treat the pelvic floor pain evaluate different aspects of the body contributing to the pain. Believe it or not, your joints, muscles, and surrounding soft tissue can irritate the bladder and even mimic bladder pain. Balancing out the muscle problems can help symptoms and get patients functioning again.