Treatments

Interstitial Cystitis Treatments

There are a variety of treatments to ease the symptoms of interstitial cystitis, but there is no known cure. Your healthcare provider will discuss the best treatment with you, based on:

  • Your age, overall health and medical history
  • Extent of the disease
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference

Those treatments might include:

  • Alternative medicine: Some patients have experienced relief through acupuncture and guided imagery.
  • Biofeedback: Sensors placed on your abdomen teach you to respond to and control the movement of your bladder muscles.
  • Bladder retraining: By holding urine for increasingly longer periods, patients can stretch the bladder, allowing it to hold more urine successfully.
  • Bladder stretching: While you are under anesthesia, your physician can stretch the bladder by filling it with a fluid or gas.
  • Botox injections: This can relieve pain by temporarily paralyzing the bladder.
  • Electrical stimulation: Some patients experience a reduction in pelvic pain and urinary urgency with electrical stimulation to the sacral nerve or to the pubic area. Electrical stimulation can increase blood flow, which can strengthen the muscles that control the bladder. Electrical stimulation can take place during physical therapy, or a stimulator may be surgically implanted in the abdomen.
  • Lifestyle changes: Managing stress and avoiding foods that can be irritating to the bladder lining (alcohol, citrus, spicy food, chocolate, caffeine, carbonated beverages and artificial sweeteners) can be helpful.
  • Medications: Pain medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, antidepressants and antispasmodication medicines may be helpful in treating symptoms. Pentosan polysulfate sodium may be used to repair the irritated bladder lining. Medications may be taken orally or introduced directly to the bladder through a catheter.
  • Smoking cessation: This may reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Stress management: As with any chronic pain condition, managing stress can help control symptoms of interstitial cystitis.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be an option when other treatments fail. Surgical options include burning or resecting ulcers and augmenting the bladder.