Diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis? Now what?
Last week, we discussed what Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is and what it often looks like. You can get caught up here.
Those with IC often come to the diagnosis after several tests to rule out other things, such as infections. The medical community doesn’t know what causes IC. Some possibilities include: defects in the bladder, trauma to the bladder, pelvic floor dysfunction, autoimmune diseases, inflammation, spinal cord trauma, genetics, allergies, and abuse.
A reminder, there is no cure for IC and treatment isn’t always a guarantee and often take a combination of treatments.
Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help address pelvic floor issues that could be contributing to the IC symptoms including addressing tightness, trigger points, and strengthening the pelvic floor. Next week’s blog by a physical therapist will talk more about the pelvic floor.
Medication: Your doctor may prescribe medication, including antidepressants, pain medication, and antihistamines. Medication could also include treatments that are administered directly into the bladder to reduce pain and inflammation.
Neuromodulators: Neuromodulators come in several formats. One format is can be a device, internal or external, that sends small electrical pulses to nerves that help reduce pain and frequency. Botox is also a neuromodulator, often injected into the bladder, to help reduce symptoms of IC.
Diet: Many people diagnosed with IC also have allergies or other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), changes in diet can be a very important part of the treatment process. Usually the first step is to cut out foods that can irritate the bladder, including: caffeine, alcohol, citrus & cranberry, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods and high acidic foods, like tomatoes.
Self-care and Psychotherapy: IC can cause emotional distress in many people. Working with a therapist who understands the diagnosis and symptoms can help people work through their thoughts and feelings around the diagnosis. Reducing stress can help ease pain and cope with the challenges that come with IC. Sex therapy can also help address pain with sex and decreased libido.
The information found in this post is from my experience working with clients who have been diagnosed with IC and information found on the Interstitial Cystitis Association’s website. This information is designed to help you educate yourself and not to be used for self-treatment. Consult with your medical treatment team before starting with treatment.
The next three posts will be by guest author and physical therapist, Berrin Boyce talking about the pelvic floor, what is it, what’s its function, and how does it relate to sexual function!