As a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor, I've gotten used to talking about issues around the genitals. However, I know that sex, poop, and pee aren't common topics of conversation with everyone. An unfortunate effect of this is that conditions related to the pelvic floor don't always get public awareness. For example, you probably know what arthritis is generally speaking, but what about interstitial cystitis (IC)?
Because of this, on Saturday, September 11th, I'm participating in a virtual walk to raise awareness for this pelvic floor condition.
If you would like to help, please feel free to join the Bridgewrights Team and walk any distance any time on Saturday, donate money to The Interstitial Cystitis Association (the link is on Facebook), or simply educate yourself on the condition. I've created a video (with a transcript below) to help, but am also happy to answer any questions about IC, or about the pelvic floor in general. And, of course, if you or a friend relates to the symptoms, please don't hesitate to reach out for treatment!
When bladder pain gets you down, the first place you go is your urologist, or your gyne, or maybe urgent care, right? After a few tests and a round of antibiotics, but no relief of pain, you’re given a diagnosis of interstitial cystitis or IC. Along with those words, you may also have been given some advice about what foods to eat and maybe a few pills and hopefully a prescription to come to pelvic floor PT. That’s me!
But what actually is interstitial Cystitis?
And how can Physical Therapy help?
Interstitial cystitis is a diagnosis of exclusion. This means that people are diagnosed with this disorder when medical doctors aren’t really fully sure what’s going on.
The theory used to be that there was some inflammation in the lining of the bladder, but many people with terrible pain have no evidence of inflammation whatsoever!
The truth is that it’s not really well understood. Inflammation, over-sensitization, tight muscles who knows?
Typically symptoms are pain in the genital area or low back that increases as the bladder fills with urine and is relieved when you pee. Also the feeling of having to go RIGHT NOW, which I call urgency. Pain with sex or orgasm are also common.
Fortunately there is treatment for all of these symptoms. Pelvic floor physical therapists treat IC the same way we treat any pelvic floor patients. We assess the muscles for trigger points, retrain muscles that are not working properly, bring in more blood flow to help with healing, and prescribe movements to help reduce pain. All treatments are designed for your specific needs. No two patients with IC will get exactly the same advice.
And if these solutions don’t resolve your issue, we can help provide guidance on other treatments that will help.
Sometimes people with these same symptoms are given other labels, like Bladder Pain Syndrome, Chronic Prostatitis, Chronic pelvic pain, Hypersensitive Bladder, and even more.
Physical therapy is likely to help any of these conditions.
If you have any of these symptoms, but don’t have a diagnosis, you are not alone. Many people live for years before receiving a diagnosis. And you don’t have to wait for one before getting help.
Pain-free, comfortable living is possible. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for an appointment.