Bladder Pain / Interstitial cystitis

Interstitial cystitis (bladder pain syndrome) is a condition which is characterized by the bladder pain during the filling phase. Patients usually complain of pain as the bladder gets full and because of that they urinate frequently to avoid pain sensation. Patients also complain of urgency (got to go sensation) and getting up at night multiple times to urinate. There is always pain with intercourse especially in positions where bladder is directly irritated by the partner’s penis. Patients often have pain outside the bladder, in the vulva, lower back and abdomen. Certain foods and drinks, especially acidic, spicy, containing coughing or alcohol are known to trigger pain and urgency in patients with bladder pain syndrome. Drinks include coffee and tea (both caffeinated and decaffeinated), soda, alcohol, citrus juices, and cranberry juice. Fruits which acidified urine are lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, kiwi fruit as well as vegetables such as chili peppers, onions, sauerkraut, tomato products and pickles worsen interstitial cystitis symptoms. Processed cheese, dark chocolate and yogurt are also known to aggravate the bladder.

Pathophysiology of interstitial cystitis is not known, and many different theories have been proposed to explain this disease. They range from an infection which is not easily detectable by available techniques to autoimmune process to pelvic floor muscle spasm and incomplete emptying. This lack of understanding of how patients get interstitial cystitis makes the treatment of this condition much more difficult.

There is also a big disagreement among providers on how to diagnose interstitial cystitis, and most diagnose it based on patient’s symptoms. Additional studies such as urine analysis, urine culture and cystoscopy may be necessary to rule out other conditions that may be adding to bladder pain. Looking for glomerulations on cystoscopy or potassium sensitivity test are not used in modern diagnostic process of interstitial cystitis.

There are multiple available treatments for interstitial cystitis which include diet modifications, relaxation techniques oral medications but one of the most important concepts is treatment of the pelvic floor muscles. Additionally, treatments involving hydrodistention of the bladder may be very beneficial.

If you or someone you know suffers from interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome call our office at 480-599-9682 or email [email protected] to learn more about available treatments.

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