Interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic condition characterized by bladder pressure, bladder pain, and sometimes pelvic pain, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain. Both men and women can be affected, but it is more common among women. When diagnosed correctly, the condition can be managed very well. Dr. Perez has been at the forefront of understanding and treating interstitial cystitis for many decades.
How do I know if I have interstitial cystitis?
The symptoms of interstitial cystitis can be similar to other issues such as urinary tract infections, so if you are experiencing bladder pain or increased urgency of urination, it's important to see a qualified physician to figure out the causes of your symptoms. Common symptoms of IC include:
- Bladder pressure and pain that gets worse as your bladder fills up.
- Pain in your pelvis or perineum.
- A persistent, urgent need to urinate.
- Frequent urination, often of small amounts, throughout the day and night.
- Pain during sexual intercourse.
There is no specific diagnostic test for interstitial cystitis. If you come in with symptoms such as bladder pain, Dr. Perez will conduct a variety of tests to rule out other treatable conditions, such as urinary tract infections, bladder cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and kidney stones. In women, endometriosis is another possibility. For men, IC can be mistaken for an inflamed prostate or chronic pelvic pain syndrome.
How is interstitial cystitis treated?
At this time there is no cure for interstitial cystitis (IC). There are, however, many available options to relieve the symptoms of pain, urgency, and frequency of urination. Most people find that a combination of treatments is the best approach. Finding the optimal individual treatment protocol may also require a period of trial and error. IC treatments may include:
- Lifestyle Changes—including dietary changes, stress reduction, and physical therapy.
- Prescription and OTC Drugs—Some anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and antihistamine drugs taken orally have been shown to help treat the symptoms of IC. Other drugs are infused directly into the bladder with a catheter.
- Neuromodulation or Ulcer Cauterization—Electrical nerve stimulators, also known as neuromodulators or PTNS (Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation), send mild electrical pulses to nerves in the lower back and can help manage urinary function or offer relief of chronic pain. If your IC is related to a bladder ulcer, having it cauterized under anesthesia or having steroid injections may give relief.
- Surgery—Surgical procedures, such as a cystoscopy with hydrodistention, may be recommended to diagnose or to treat IC. Surgery may also be performed to implant an electrical nerve stimulator to help relieve IC symptoms. In severe cases Bladder Surgery is also an option.