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Interstitial cystitis is also called chronic bladder pain syndrome, because essentially you’re constantly having pain in the bladder. It’s very common in people with endometriosis, and in fibromyalgia. And it can just be something that cripples people, in addition to having chronic pain in the pelvis and other places in the body.
The bladder rests right along the pelvic floor muscles, which wrap from the pubic bone in the front, to the tailbone in the back. And so, when the bladder is inflamed or irritated, it can irritate the muscles underneath, as well as some of the nerves and blood vessels that run close to it.
Painful bladder syndrome can often be misinterpreted as a urinary tract infection. The biggest difference is, on testing at the doctor’s office, you’ll get negative tests and negative cultures which can be really frustrating for both the patient and the doctor, as they’re trying to figure out what’s going on. And it’s very disabling, interrupts sleep, and can be very misunderstood by other providers on the medical community, who will again, often think that it’s a psychiatric issue or something else going on with the patient, that it has nothing to do with an actual physiological problem.
The potential signs and symptoms of painful bladder can be: frequent urination, only urinating in small amounts, burning with urination, feeling like the bladder’s full when its not. A lot of people would notice tenderness in the bladder.
There is a correlation in patients who have painful bladder syndrome and pelvic floor dysfunction. And sometimes we’re not sure which one came first, because we’re seeing patients so far down the road. But, the general belief is that if you have painful bladder syndrome it can cause pelvic floor dysfunction, and if you have pelvic floor dysfunction it can cause painful bladder syndrome. So typically, by the time we see patients they’re suffering from both at the same time, and so we work on treating both simultaneously.
There are many treatments for painful bladder syndrome and some of those may be medications or injections that can help release the pressure on the pelvic floor, which then relieves the pressure on the bladder that may be contributing to the frequency of urination and to the pain symptoms involved.