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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

· Cystoscopy

· 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.

Aggravating Factors

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:

· Stress

· Diet (coffee, tea, soda, alcohol, citrus juices, cranberry juice, artificial sweeteners, spicy food)

· Vigorous exercise

Related Conditions

There have been found to be a correlation with IC/BPS and the following conditions:


· Inflammatory bowel disease

· Vulvodynia

· Endometriosis

· Fibromyalgia & chronic fatigue syndrome

· Migraines

· Lupus

· Sjogren’s syndrome

· Allergies

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.

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