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What is Interstitial Cystitis and How Can It Be Treated?

Written By: Women and Infants on March 17, 2021

Interstitial Cystitis can be a very uncomfortable affliction that can have a big impact on your everyday life with frequent disruptions of your schedule and routine. Learn more about what Interstitial Cystitis is and what you can do to help alleviate it.

What Is Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis (IC), or painful bladder syndrome, is a complex bladder health issue associated with recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the pelvic area. 


Other common symptoms of the condition are frequent urination, an urgent need to urinate, and urinary incontinence. Certain foods and drinks, mental and physical stress, and menstrual periods can make these symptoms worse. 

Common Causes Of Interstitial Cystitis

The exact cause of interstitial cystitis is still unknown. However, several factors can damage the bladder lining and trigger this health issue. Here are a few.

  • Weakened or dysfunctional pelvic muscles
  • Inflammation of pelvic nerves 
  • Trauma to the lining of the bladder
  • Excessive stretching of the bladder for extended periods
  • Recurring bacterial infections
  • Autoimmune disorders 

There is no definite test for interstitial cystitis. However, because IC shares many symptoms with other bladder disorders, your doctor will need to rule out other conditions. Information and tests that will be helpful in diagnosing the condition include your medical history and bladder diary, pelvic exam, urine test, bladder and urethra biopsy, cystoscopy and bladder stretching. 

Treatment Options

While there is no definitive treatment for IC, there are several treatment options that can help to relieve the associated symptoms. These include physical therapy, medications, electrical nerve stimulation, bladder distention, bladder instillation, bladder training, diet modification and surgery. Using a combination of treatments will provide the most relief.

What is Pelvic Floor Therapy?

Pelvic floor therapy is a treatment plan that targets the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues at the pelvic floor. This muscle group is responsible for a range of functions including bladder control. 

The therapy involves biofeedback and physical exercises aimed at relaxing and strengthening muscles in the lower pelvic region. This can help to address weakness, pain and dysfunction in the muscles. 

How Pelvic Floor Therapy Helps Treat Interstitial Cystitis

The treatment option your doctor will recommend will depend on the severity of the symptoms. Generally, pelvic floor therapy is the most effective and evidence-based treatment for IC. Below is how the therapy can help in treating interstitial cystitis. 

Pain Relief

People with interstitial cystitis will usually experience pelvic pain. This therapy helps to loosen and strengthen pelvic floor muscles, effectively releasing tension from the muscles. This can go a long way in relieving pain.  

Helps to Address Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

A good number of patients with interstitial cystitis suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction. This can lead to urinary issues, constipation, pressure and pain in the pelvic region, and lower back pain. By strengthening the muscles in this region, pelvic floor therapy helps to restore normal function. 

Improves Bladder Control

Tight and stressed pelvic floor muscles can contribute to urinary symptoms. Physical therapy will help to relax the muscles in the pelvic region and ensure they work together to promote the proper functioning of the bladder. The therapy may also include stretching, self-care and massage to deliver holistic treatment. 

When suffering from interstitial cystitis, you should find the right doctor. Women and Infants Hospital in Rhode Island is committed to top medical care with specialty-trained doctors ready to provide you with the personalized care you need. Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment. 


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