Interstitial cystitis or bladder pain syndrome is a common, yet often unrecognized cause of chronic pelvic pain (CPP). CPP is defined as noncyclical pelvic pain for at least 6 months. The bladder is one of the most sensitive organs in the pelvis and one of the most common sources of pain in patients with CPP.(1) Up to 81% of patients with CPP will have bladder involvement.(2)  

Symptoms can often include: 

  • Urinary urgency, frequency, hesitancy, stopping and starting, or incomplete emptying
  • Painful urination
  • Constipation, straining, or pain with bowel movements
  • Unexplained pain in the lower back, pelvic region, genital area, or rectum
  • Pain during or after intercourse or orgasm
  • How can pelvic floor physical therapy help?

Many patients with interstitial cystitis (IC) and their physicians are turning to physical therapy to help ease symptoms and pain. Physical therapy is especially helpful if the patient has pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD), and it has been found that 87% of IC patients have PFD (3). Pain referred from internal organs, such as the bladder, may set off these muscle problems. In patients who have IC or other pelvic pain conditions, the pelvic floor muscles may be tight or in spasm, have a combination of tightness and weakness, or have myofascial trigger points or “knots”.  A combination of internal and external myofascial release is used to increase soft tissue mobility, improve muscle function, and overall improve pain symptoms. 

Patient education plays a major role in treatment. Toileting and environmental factors, such as diet and fluid intake, will also be addressed. 

Contact me about questions related to your IC diagnosis and allow yourself to get back on the journey towards recovery and happiness. Learn ways to cope with this difficult diagnosis and improve your daily life. 

 (^1)  Zondervan KT, Yudkin PL, Vessey MP, et al. Patterns of diagnosis and referral in women consulting for chronic pelvic pain in UK primary care. British journal of obstetrics and gynaecology. 1999;106(11):1156-61.
(^2) Parsons CL, Dell J, Stanford EJ, et al. The prevalence of interstitial cystitis in gynecologic patients with pelvic pain, as detected by intravesical potassium sensitivity. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. 2002;187(5):1395-400.
(^3) Tu, Frank F., et al. "Physical therapy evaluation of patients with chronic pelvic pain: a controlled study." American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 198.3 (2008): 272-e1.