Painful bladder syndrome, sometimes known as interstitial cystitis, is a condition that causes pain in the pelvis and when urinating. The pain can come in the form of mild discomfort, tenderness, or intense pain in the bladder and pelvic area. Painful bladder is a chronic condition, meaning that it lasts for a long time.
What are the symptoms of painful bladder syndrome?
Painful bladder syndrome can present differently in different patients, and at different times as the condition develops. Other factors may also have an impact on the symptoms you experience, such as menstruation, stress, physical activity, sexual activity, and sitting for a long period of time.
The most common symptoms include:
- pain in the pelvis
- pain below the belly button
- pain between the anus and scrotum in men or vagina in women
- a persistent need to pee
- pain during sexual intercourse
- needing to pee more frequently than usual
- waking up to go to the toilet a lot of times during the night
What causes painful bladder syndrome?
The cause of painful bladder syndrome isn’t fully understood. There are likely to be a number of factors which contribute to the condition. Some studies believe it is related to a defect in the lining of the bladder, while others think it is related to allergy, infection, or that it is a genetic condition.
Some people are more at risk of painful bladder syndrome than others:
- The condition is more frequently found in women than in men.
- People with a fair complexion, with light skin and red hair have a higher risk of contracting the condition.
- It is more common in people over the age of 30.
- People suffering with other pain disorders such as fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome may be more at risk of the condition.
How is painful bladder syndrome treated?
There is no single treatment for painful bladder syndrome. A specialist will most likely prescribe a mixture of medication and physical therapy to help manage the condition and its symptoms.
A physical therapist can help with relieving the pelvic pain and tenderness associated with the condition, while medication can help to relieve the pain and relax the bladder.
This is a short procedure whereby a camera is inserted into the bladder to assess and ensure that there are no abnormalities present. The bladder is then stretched and this process can reduce the pain, particularly if combined with bladder instillations.
Medications that can be directly inserted into the bladder, the aim is to repair the lining of the bladder, and can be administered on a weekly basis, for a cycle of six weeks.
There is evidence that Botox can help with chronic pain and also the frequency and incontinence sometimes associated with painful bladder syndrome. The procedure is performed under local or general anaesthetic and can give relief for up to 6 – 9 months.
TENS uses electrical impulses from wires placed near the lower back, or near the pubic area. The electrical impulses work by increasing blood flow to this area and strengthening muscles, which in turn can relieve pain and reduce the symptoms of urinary frequency.
If you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned here, or already have a diagnosis of painful bladder syndrome and would like to see a specialist, you can make an appointment here.