Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a pelvic pain disorder that can cause chronic pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction. It affects both men and women, although it is more common in women. Physical therapy has been proven to be an effective treatment for people with IC.
The International Pelvic Pain Society (IPPS) endorses physical therapy as a safe and effective treatment for pelvic pain associated with IC. Physical therapists work with their patients to manage pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic pain, and other issues associated with IC.
If you’re experiencing chronic pain or constant pressure in your bladder or pelvic area, you may be suffering from interstitial cystitis (IC), and physical therapy may be able to help.
At Urology of Greater Atlanta, our team of board-certified urologists provides expert diagnosis and treatment for this painful condition, one treatment option being bladder instillations. We have multiple locations throughout the state of Georgia. Call us today to schedule a consultation!
What Is Interstitial Cystitis?
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder that affects more than 3 million women in the United States. It causes pain and pressure in the bladder area that fluctuates in intensity over time. It is also known as painful bladder syndrome or IC/BPS.
Symptoms of this disorder can include frequent urination, pelvic pain, pressure in the lower abdomen or back area, and tight pelvic floor muscles. IC can range from mild to severe and require both physical and emotional support for treatment.
What Causes Interstitial Cystitis?
The cause of interstitial cystitis is believed to be related to changes within the bladder musculature, inflammation of the bladder wall, and dysfunctional nerve signals from the brain.
Many potential factors can contribute to IC, including:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In some cases, people with IBS also experience symptoms of IC.
- Dysfunctional Bladder Muscles. Abnormalities in the structure or function of the smooth muscle layers surrounding the bladder may be associated with IC development.
- Inflammation. Infections, allergies, autoimmune conditions, and other inflammatory disorders may contribute to the development of IC.
- Diet and Nutrition. Certain foods, beverages, alcohol, spices, and supplements can trigger symptoms of IC in some people.
- Hormonal Imbalances. An imbalance in hormones, such as estrogen or testosterone, may lead to changes in the bladder that could cause IC.
- Genetics. There is evidence to suggest that genetic factors may play a role in the development of IC symptoms.
- Stress-Related Factors. Stress can worsen symptoms for many people with IC. It is believed that stress may increase inflammation and nerve sensitivity, leading to further irritation within the bladder wall and increased pain levels.
How Do I Know if I Have Interstitial Cystitis?
If you experience frequent bladder pain or other symptoms in the lower urinary tract that persist for more than 6 weeks, you may have Interstitial cystitis (IC).
Common bladder symptoms and urinary symptoms associated with IC include an urgent and/or frequent need to urinate, pelvic pain, bladder pain, or a sensation of pressure in the bladder area, as well as pain during sexual intercourse. These symptoms may come and go, usually worsening with stress.
Your doctor can use a physical exam and specialized tests to determine if you have Interstitial cystitis. They will also want to rule out other causes of bladder pain, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI).
A urine sample may be taken to check for certain bacteria and white blood cells that indicate a UTI is present. Additionally, your doctor might order further tests, such as an ultrasound or cystoscopy, to confirm the diagnosis of IC.
How Is the Pelvic Floor Related to Interstitial Cystitis?
The pelvic floor muscles play a crucial role in the maintenance of bladder health, and dysfunction of these muscles may be related to interstitial cystitis (IC).
The pelvic floor supports organs such as the bladder and uterus. When it is weak or too tight, it can lead to issues with urinary frequency or urgency, bladder prolapse, stress incontinence, and pain with sexual activity.
Furthermore, when pelvic floor muscles are not functioning properly, they can cause increased tension in the bladder and neck which may contribute to IC symptoms.
What Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a type of physical therapy that focuses on the muscles and tissues in the pelvic region. This area includes muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that support the bladder, uterus, rectum, and intestines.
A physical therapist trained in pelvic physical therapy can help with issues such as pain, incontinence, and difficulty with urination or defecation.
Treatment can involve exercises to build strength and flexibility in the pelvic region. The goal is to restore balance and functioning back to the pelvic region so that you can live your life without pain or limitation.
How Does Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Help Interstitial Cystitis?
Pelvic floor physical therapy is an effective treatment to help people with interstitial cystitis (IC). Physical therapists can identify tight muscles in the pelvic floor and provide a personalized treatment plan that includes physical therapy interventions and lifestyle changes.
Physical therapists often start by teaching their clients relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing exercises. These are used to reduce tension and pain in the pelvic area.
Physical therapists may also recommend stretching exercises to improve flexibility and mobility of the hip joints. They may also use electrical stimulation or biofeedback to relax tight muscles.
The physical therapist’s main goal is to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles through specific pelvic floor strengthening exercises, such as Kegels or other targeted exercises.
These exercises can help reduce frequent urination, urge incontinence, and pelvic pain. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles also helps build endurance and increases bladder capacity.
Call Us Today
Working closely with a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor rehabilitation can help you find relief from the symptoms of IC that have been limiting your quality of life.
Reach out to us at Urology of Greater Atlanta to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified urologists to see if you are a candidate for pelvic floor physical therapy.
We have multiple locations throughout the state of Georgia. Call us today and get started on your path toward healing!