Interstitial Cystitis

(Painful Bladder Syndrome)
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Why understanding Interstitial Cystitis is so important:

Interstitial Cystitis affects 3.2 – 7.9 million women and 1 – 4 million men in the USA alone.
Interstitial Cystitis can interfere so much with life that those dealing with it may miss work, lose sleep, have panic attacks, deal with depression, suicidal thoughts and have an overall poor quality of life.

Confusion in a Name:

In Europe, Interstitial Cystitis is only the diagnosis for those with Hunner’s lesions. All others are diagnosed as having Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS). In Japan, it is called Hypersensitive Bladder Syndrome (HBS). This means that it can be confusing. It also underlines the importance to use the diagnosis that your client connects to in your communication.

Up until the last decade, Interstitial Cystitis was considered a “bladder disease”, but now thanks to research and work by clinicians we understand now that this extends beyond the bladder (for example — it may involve pelvic floor muscles and nerves).

It has been proven that the removal of the bladder isn’t an effective way to reduce the pain.

25 out of 31 women (Finnish study) experienced pain symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis when the pelvic
floor was palpated.

The Symptoms

Interstitial Cystitis or PBS is a complex pain condition that involves symptoms of:

♦  Urinary frequency and/or urgency

♦  Pressure, pain or discomfort –similar to how a UTI would feel, but without infection present

♦  Increase in symptoms may be present during times of increased stress

♦  Tight muscles or nerve trauma may be present

Out of those diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis or PBS – 5-10% have lesions on the bladder wall (Hunner’s Lesions) and the other 90-95% have a “normal” bladder, but still have bladder / pelvic pain.

Sub-Types of Interstitial Cystitis

(created by Dr. Christopher Payne in 2015)
Hunner’s Lesions:
5-10% – lesions on bladder wall, severe inflammation, bleeding, damaged bladder wall. In 2015 linked to a rare viral infection.

Bladder Wall Injury:
Symptoms start after a UTI, chemotherapy, bad diet or chemical exposure.

Pelvic Floor Injury:
Trauma to pelvic floor (examples: birth, falling, repetitive bicycling, sexual abuse)

Pudendal Neuralgia:
Muscles are hypertonic (bike riders syndrome) – may notice a painful arousal sensation.

Multiple Pain Disorders / Functional Somatic Syndrome:
Other things present (such as IBS, vulvodynia, prostatodynia, fibromyalgia, neurosensitivity, migraines and Raynaud’s syndrome).  Nerves are very sensitive. Some cases are genetic, others are due to injury or trauma

What May Relieve Interstitial Cystitis Symptoms?

  • Trigger point release (pelvic floor physiotherapist)
  • Massage to connective tissue (abdomen & legs)
  • Stretching / Yoga – Restorative, Gentle, Yin
  • Meditation and other stress management techniques
  • Avoid constipation
  • Epsom salts baths – relieve tight muscles, time for body scan and increases magnesium
  • Magnesium spray (if not enough time for Epsom salt bath)
  • Castor oil packs – for scar tissue and overactive bladder
  • Probiotic
  • Functional medicine / naturopathic doctor – autoimmune diet
  • Minimum of 6 hours of sleep – ideally between 10 pm – 4 am
  • NO KEGELS – Instead do reverse kegels
  • Keep urine dilute, but don’t over – hydrate
  • Exclude certain trigger foods (caffeinated beverages, soda, alcohol, citrus fruits and juices, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, tomatoes and food additives and preservatives)

We Spoke In Depth with Helena Spears...

Helena is a yoga teacher who has been using yoga to deal with persistent pain.
She has Interstitial Cystitis, Fibromyalgia and Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS).