Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome (IC/BPS)
IC/BPS, affecting both men and women, is a chronic bladder health issue that generally starts with UTI-like symptoms, such as urinary frequency, urgency and pain with a full bladder.
Symptoms of IC/BPS:
· Increased urinary urgency
· Increased urinary frequency (>8x/day)
· Urinating at night
· Pain located at the pelvis, bladder, urethra, pubic bone, vagina, groin or perineum
· Pain/pressure around the bladder and pelvis that increases as the bladder is filling up and relieves as the bladder is emptying
· Pelvic floor tension
· Blood in the urine
· Pain with sex
*Symptoms that last for more than 3 months and are unresponsive to antibiotics
How is it diagnosed?
There is no specific test for IC/BPS. It is diagnosed by ruling out any other possible pathologies that could explain the symptoms. In order to rule out these other conditions, you will likely have to undergo a variety of tests, including:
· Urine test for infection
· Urodynamic evaluation
Since IC/BPS is diagnosed by exclusion, it often takes a long time to diagnose, which can feel frustrating and emotional for patients.
What causes IC/BPS?
The exact cause of IC/BPS is unknown but there are many possible theories being tested, including:
· Immune system attacking the bladder
· Poor bladder tissue that allows the urine to penetrate the bladder
· Increased inflammatory cells that release histamines and other chemicals
· Defect in the nerve that senses changes in the bladder (e.g., the nerve is telling the brain that there is pain when the bladder is filling).
· Pelvic floor overactivity.
Although we don’t know exactly what causes IC/BPS we have been able to identify some factors that aggravate the symptoms. These factors vary from person to person and include:
· Diet (coffee, tea, soda, alcohol, citrus juices, cranberry juice, artificial sweeteners, spicy food)
· Vigorous exercise
There have been found to be a correlation with IC/BPS and the following conditions:
· Inflammatory bowel disease
· Fibromyalgia & chronic fatigue syndrome
· Sjogren’s syndrome
IC/BPS and Pelvic Health Physiotherapy
Pelvic health physiotherapists can effectively treat IC/BPS with many forms of therapy. First, your physiotherapist will ask you a series of questions to identify aggravating factors and how to manage them. Since many patients with IC/BPS have tension and tenderness of the pelvic floor muscles, your physiotherapist will likely do some manual therapy on the muscles, as well as instruct you through a variety of stretches and movements to release the tension in your muscles. Your physiotherapist will also educate you about urinary urgency and how to manage this urgency and pain.