Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder

What it is

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a chronic condition that causes bladder pain, lower abdominal discomfort, and pelvic pain. Patients have described it as “the UTI that never goes away.”

How it is treated with physical therapy

This condition typically creates a great deal of guarding muscle spasms throughout the pelvic floor musculature. The pain of the muscle spasms exacerbates the pain from IC. Therapy cannot eliminate the pain from IC, however, by reducing the muscle spasms in the pelvic floor your overall pain can be greatly reduced.
Therapist will use manual therapy techniques to release this muscle tension. This involves the therapist using a gloved finger to work directly on the tissue. Most work for this condition is done internally. For women therapist will typically work vaginally, and for men therapist will work rectally to access the deep pelvic floor muscles.
Therapist will likely work other soft tissue involvement in the abdomen, hips, and thighs.

Your Homework

Therapist will teach you to perform all manual work on your pelvic floor at home. You will also be given relevant stretching and strengthening exercises as needed based on your presentation.
You are welcome to bring in your partner if they would like to learn how to do what I do in order to help you progress quicker with a home program. The long term goal is for you to feel in control of your pain. When you own it, it no longer owns you!

How many sessions

Your treatment can go on until you feel independent with working on your pelvic floor on your own. This varies widely from patient to patient. I have seen patients for as few as 3 visits, and for as many as 30.
I typically like to see this patient once per week so the muscle tension is less likely to return between sessions.

For more in-depth information on this condition you can visit the Interstitial Cystitis Association website here.

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