Bladder Pain

Interstitial cystitis (inter-STI-shal SIS-tie-TIS), commonly referred to as bladder pain syndrome, is a chronic and painful condition that affects the bladder. The bladder is the organ that stores urine. Symptoms of bladder pain syndrome (BPS) include frequent urination, discomfort if not urinating, discomfort with urination, as well as pain in the bladder area (in the midline area below the bikini line). These symptoms may mimic the symptoms of a urinary tract infection although no infection exists. The exact reason for BPS is not known. Diagnosis is often not straightforward. However, trained physicians are much more aware of the symptoms and are able to correctly identify the condition. Many patients with interstitial cystitis present with complaints of chronic pelvic pain as well. Due to the many potential causes of pain in the lower pelvis, the diagnosis may be less obvious in these cases. However, the diagnosis may still be identified and appropriate therapy given.

Diagnosis and treatment may include a cystoscopy (a brief procedure performed commonly in the office to examine the bladder and urethra using a camera), as well as medications to help calm the bladder such as bladder instillations (filling the bladder with a medication that helps relieve the discomfort). These treatments often allow the patient to recover from the debilitating pain that often restricts a patient’s sexual and social life. 

Treatment options