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MythBusters - Interstitial Cystitis Edition

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

Interstitial Cystitis (IC), sometimes also called Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS), is a chronic condition causing bladder and pelvic pain or pressure and a frequent urge to urinate. It traditionally has been poorly understood and misdiagnosed, as it is often mistaken for chronic urinary tract infections, but there is no infection. Fortunately, we’ve learned a lot about the condition and how to treat it in recent years, but there are still many myths and misconceptions about IC/PBS that may actually be contributing to the mistreatment and misdiagnosis of this condition.

Dr. Nicole Cozean is a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist and a Board Certified Women’s Health Clinical Specialist. Dr. Nicole has been a leader in the field of Pelvic Health and instrumental in our understanding of IC/PBS. So much so, she even wrote the book on Interstitial Cystitis, “The Interstitial Cystitis Solution: A holistic plan for healing painful symptoms, resolving bladder and pelvic floor dysfunction, and taking back your life.” Below are some of the most common myths Dr. Nicole has identified about IC.

Myth #1: IC is exclusively a bladder condition.

This myth originates from the theory that IC is caused by wounds in the lining of the bladder, or Hunner’s lesions, allowing urine to make direct contact with the bladder itself, leading to pain and the urgent need to empty the bladder.

Interstitial cystitis is much more than just a bladder condition. In fact, only about 10% of people diagnosed with IC actually have damage to the bladder, or Hunner’s lesions. More than 90% of those diagnosed with IC instead actually have pelvic floor dysfunction, which can cause or exacerbate all of the characteristic symptoms of IC, such as suprapubic pain, pelvic pain, urethral burning, and urinary urgency/frequency, among other symptoms.

This myth can often lead to mistreatment of IC, with bladder-focused treatments such as medications, bladder instillations, hydrodistention, and botox to the bladder, without actually addressing the underlying cause of the symptoms. Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy to address the pelvic floor dysfunction associated with IC is the most proven treatment, and the only medical treatment to be given “Grade A” evidence by the American Urological Association.