Management of Interstitial Cystitis (IC)/ Bladder Pain Syndrome (BPS)

IC/BPS can be a very painful and debilitating condition.  As put forth by the Society for Urodynamics and Female Urology (SUFU), it is defined as ‘an unpleasant sensation (pain, pressure, discomfort) perceived to be related to the urinary bladder, associated with lower urinary tract symptoms of more than six weeks duration, in the absence of infection or other identifiable causes’.  At times, bladder pain may present as diffuse, difficult to localize, dull and crampy.  It can also be associated with symptoms of nausea, sweating or an increase/decrease in blood pressure.

The prevalence of IC/BPS is higher in females than in males and susceptibility increases with age.  Studies to date have not found any real variations by race or ethnicity.

It is important to note that like many other pelvic pain syndromes, a multi-modal and individualized approach to treatment is necessary for better outcomes.  First and second line treatments may include (but are not limited to) appropriate education on normal bladder function, self-help such as bladder re-training and support groups, proper diet, relaxation, stress management and pelvic physiotherapy.  A trial and error approach is ideal as client approach to different treatments will vary.

In 2011, the American Urological Association (AUA) put together a guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of IC/BPS.  To learn more about what specific treatments may help, you can access this guideline at:

Also, here is a link to an excellent study that was published in 2012.  It compared a group of IC/BPS that received pelvic physiotherapy to global massage therapy and the results showed a significant reduction in pain for those in the physiotherapy group.

These are just a couple of the very promising research studies and clinical advances made in IC/BPS.  Don’t give up hope as there are options that may work for you or someone you know with IC/BPS.

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