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what is IC Interstitial Cystitis | IC & Symptoms | Image Courtesy of Marek Piwnicki via Unsplash
Interstitial Cystitis | IC & Symptoms | Image Courtesy of Marek Piwnicki via Unsplash

What is IC or Interstitial cystitis?

IC is also known as bladder pain syndrome or painful bladder syndrome and is a debilitating condition that significantly affects the quality of life of patients living with it.

Many patients with IC have other overlapping pain conditions such as Dyspareunia (pain with intercourse). 88% of patients with IC had at least one symptoms of sexual dysfunction (lack of sexual interest, can’t relax and enjoy sex, difficulty becoming sexually aroused and difficulty reaching orgasm)1. Women with IC rated their sexual dysfunction as moderate to severe when compared to controls and reported increased pain with intercourse, decreased desire and decreased frequency of orgasm5,6

Symptoms of IC include: 

  • An unpleasant sensation (pain, pressure, discomfort) perceived to be related to the urinary bladder >6 weeks in duration6,7,9 
  • Increased pain with specific foods or drinks and/or worsened with bladder filling and/or improved with urination9.
  • Urinary urgency (Seen in 84% of IC patients)6.
  • Urinary frequency (>10x/day) (Seen in 92% of IC patients)6.

How can pelvic health physical therapy help IC?

Pelvic health physical therapy has been given a grade A from the American Urological Association as a treatment modality for IC. The types of treatment recommended were:

  •  Manual therapy techniques to the regions of the pelvis, abdomen and/or hip. 
    • Trigger point release
    • Lengthening of tight muscles/connective tissue restrictions 
    • Scar tissue mobilizations.

The American Urological Association recommends that patients have multimodal therapy to address all domains that IC can affect. Some of the therapies recommended for IC include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Pain counseling 
  • Psychology 
  • Stress management

To discuss your treatment options with a physical therapist, make an appointment here

** The American Urological Association has recently (2022) published updated guidelines to the treatment of IC and BPS.  These updates are highlighted and discussed in our blog post: Updates to Interstitial Cystitis / Bladder Pain Syndrome Treatment Guidelines. **

 

References

1. Bogart LM, Suttorp MJ, Elliott MN, Clemens JQ, Berry SH. Prevalence and correlates of sexual dysfunction among women with bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis. Urology. 2011;77:576–580.

2. Hanno P and Dmochowski R: Status of international consensus on interstitial cystitis/ bladder pain syndrome/painful bladder syndrome: 2008 snapshot. Neurourology and Urodynamics 2009; 28: 274.

3. Clemens JQ, Link CL, Eggers PW et al: Prevalence of painful bladder symptoms and effect on quality of life in black, Hispanic and white men and women. J Urol 2007; 177:

4. Lifford KL and Curhan GC: Prevalence of Painful Bladder Syndrome in Older Women. Urology 2009; 73: 494

5. Peters KM, Killinger KA, Carrico DJ et al: Sexual function and sexual distress in women with interstitial cystitis: a case- control study. Urology 2007; 70: 543.

6. Tincello DG and Walker AC: Interstitial cystitis in the UK: results of a questionnaire survey of members of the Interstitial Cystitis Support Group. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 2005; 118: 91.

7. Fitzgerald MP, Koch D and Senka J: Visceral and cutaneous sensory testing in patients with painful bladder syndrome. Neurourol Urodyn 2005; 24: 627.

8. Fitzgerald, MP et al: Randomized multicenter clinical trial of myofascial physical therapy in women with interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS) and pelvic floor tenderness. J Urol 2012; 187: 2113

9. Warren JW, Brown J, Tracy JK et al: Evidence Based criteria for pain of interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome in women. Urology 2008; 71: 444

What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by M.N., age 28

A personal journey and testimonial from one of my patients:

I was diagnosed with vaginismus 4 years ago. I never heard of such medical condition until after I got married. At first my husband and I didn't know what to do, we didn't know what the issues were or how to overcome it. Being born and raised in Armenia and being Christian I wasn't that open about talking to sex with others and so it wasn't easy to seek help. But eventually I went to an Ob-Gyn and luckily she knew about the medical condition (not many doctors know). She referred me to a physical therapist and I couldn't believe it and thought it's something I can handle myself. I ordered a kit from vaginismus.com and started practicing with dilators. There was some small progress but wasn't much helpful.

Read more: Testimonial by M.N., age 28

Testimonial by Alexandra B.

Heather is without exaggerating AMAZING! After years of trouble with a certain part of my body, in no time, she made everything change back to equilibrium and to what would be considered normal. She explains everything in detail and therefore gives you a better understanding of why things are the way they are, and how you can work towards turning things around. I would highly recommend Heather for any type of Physical Therapy. She has created her own "Method/Therapy" through years of studying (with some of the greatest practitioners), practice and breaking down the issues of her past patients, enabling her to fine tune her own system. I'm so thankful to have found her, and I'm especially grateful for the quick recovery I've achieved, after years of distress. If you cannot afford her, I recommend you purchase her book. Although it may not be Heather in person, it can still help you to get on the right path to recovery!

-- Alexandra B., 5/20/2015 via Yelp!

Testimonial by A.M.

Months after giving birth, it was difficult for me to go from a sitting or lying position up to a full standing position without feeling that I had to remain hunched over until a bit of time had passed to get fully upright. However, after taking Heather’s course, I learned exercises to get my body back to normal. She also showed me correct ways to lift and carry my son as well as put him in/take him out of the carseat and stroller. This class was really beneficial and Heather is a wonderful teacher who made me feel very comfortable.

-- A.M.

Testimonial by Fritzette H.

I went to Heather after the birth of my third child. It was lucky, really, that I was referred to her, because my doctor had referred me to a surgeon for a possible hysterectomy or pelvic wall rebuild. Thankfully, I went to Heather before undergoing either surgery, she was able to fix the problem. She has studied extensively in women's health--even written a book about it--and was able to diagnose my problem, suggest a course of treatment (6 weeks), and then follow through with said treatment. By the end, as she said, I was as good as gold. Boy, was it worth it! Though uncomfortable to talk about, much less write about, it is worth getting the word out there. If you have painful intercourse, especially after birth or other trauma, the treatment may be as simple as Physical Therapy (with Heather, of course). I highly recommend her.

-- Fritzette H., 3/24/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Amanda W.

Heather's unique physical therapy program literally changed my life! After years of struggling with vaginismus, a condition that made it impossible for me to have intercourse and very difficult to use tampons without pain, a gynecologist referred me to Heather. I was nervous for my first appointment, but Heather's professional and friendly demeanor put me at ease. She did a great job explaining each technique she was using to help my muscles relax. Heather uses a combination of internal and external stretches and exercises to relax the pelvic floor and build muscle strength. Her specially developed home program helped me quickly recover from an issue that seemed insurmountable before meeting Heather. She was optimistic about my progress and incredibly encouraging. Less than 6 months after my first session, I was able to have pain-free sex for the first time in my life! If you are suffering from vaginismus or any other pelvic floor issues, I highly recommend making an appointment with Heather and reading her book!

-- Amanda W., 2/15/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by S.H., age 24

I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me for the past 19 months. I literally could not have reached my goals without you and your practice. You gave me the courage to keep moving forth with my treatment no matter how afraid and anxious I was. You were always there to answer questions and made this whole process so much easier than I expected it to be.

It's because of you that my marriage is on the right track, that I can get pregnant and that this part of my life is finally over. I really feel that Fusion Wellness is a team of people you can call family and are there to root for you and cheer you on until you reach your goals. There is nothing better than knowing I accomplished this with you guys by my side and as calmly and patiently as I needed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being there and helping me reach my goals.

S.H., age 24

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