Bladder Pain Syndrome

What is Bladder Pain Syndrome?

Interstitial cystitis, popularly known as bladder syndrome, is the chronic condition that results in mild or severe pain and pressure in the bladder and sometimes causes pelvic pain. Your bladder is a muscular hollow organ, the function of which is to store urine. It expands when full and then passes signals to your brain to urinate, using the pelvic nerves as the channel of communication. The urge to urinate is thus created, under normal conditions. But if you have bladder pain syndrome, these signals get mixed up, thereby sending frequent signals to the brain for urination, even if the bladder is not full. The syndrome is more common in women rather than men.

If left untreated, interstitial cystitis could result in some complications including decreasing of bladder capacity, reduced quality of life, emotional troubles and sexual intimacy issues.


The signs and symptoms of bladder pain syndrome differ in different people, based on factors such as time, menstruation, physical activities, stress and sexual activity.

Some common signs and symptoms are:

  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Frequent urination – up to sixty times a day
  • Persistent and urgent need to pass urine
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • In women, pain in pelvis or between vagina and anus
  • In men, pain between the scrotum and anus
  • Pain or discomfort after urination


Although the exact causes for bladder pain syndrome are not known, the risk factors include:

  • Defective epithelium of the bladder
  • Leak in epithelium, which is the protective lining of the bladder
  • Irritation in epithelium due to toxic substances
  • Genetic defects
  • Allergies
  • Infections
  • Autoimmune reactions
  • Heredity
  • Chronic pain disorders like fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome


The following risk factors are associated with bladder pain syndrome:

  • Female gender
  • White ethnicity
  • Age bracket of 20 to 60 years
  • Positive FHx


To prevent bladder pain syndrome, the following measures are recommended: 

  • Training the bladder to hold more urine, for longer periods
  • Reduce stress and be relaxed
  • Practice meditation to keep stress at bay
  • Wear loose clothing that do not pressurize your bladder
  • Indulge in low impact exercises like walking
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid consumption of triggering foods, by maintaining a food journal

How is it diagnosed?

The following may be helpful for your doctor at Medanta, in diagnosing bladder pain syndrome:


How is it treated?

There is not a single treatment that is known to cure bladder pain syndrome. Different procedures work for different people and therefore, the various modes employed by the specialists at Medanta are as follows:


  • Physical therapy

    To train the pelvic muscles with correct exercises.

  • Drug therapy

    Drugs like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants or pentosan polysulfate sodium may be administered to prevent the symptoms.

  • Nerve stimulation therapy

    Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation may be used to relieve pelvic pain using mild electrical impulses. This can also be used to reduce urinary frequency. Due to the electrical impulses, blood flow to the bladder increases and the bladder muscles become stronger. In another technique called sacral nerve stimulation, a thin wire may be implanted in your bladder permanently and the impulses from this device control your urinary frequency. This is similar to implantation of a pacemaker for arrhythmia of the heart. 

  • Bladder distention

    Stretching of the bladder to increase the capacity.

  • Catheterization

    A thin flexible tube called catheter is filled with a solution of medication and local anesthesia.

  • Surgical procedures

    If all other treatments fail to relieve you of bladder pain syndrome, some surgical options may be recommended by your nephrologist.


    • Fulguration - This minimally invasive method involves insertion of instruments through the urethra to burn off ulcers that may be present with interstitial cystitis.
    • Resection - This is another minimally invasive method that involves insertion of instruments through the urethra to cut around any ulcers.
    • Bladder augmentation - In this procedure, a surgeon increases the capacity of your bladder by putting a patch of intestine on the bladder. However, this is performed only in very specific and rare instances. The procedure doesn't eliminate pain and some people need to empty their bladders with a catheter many times a day.

When do I contact the doctor?

Do contact your doctor immediately, if you experience symptoms of bladder pain syndrome like frequent urination, excessive bladder pressure and pain, pain in lower tummy and lower back, pain in genitals, pain during sexual intercourse, etc.

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