Pelvic Pain

Painful bladder syndrome

Information about painful bladder syndrome (also known as interstitial cystitis)

What is painful bladder syndrome?

Painful bladder syndrome, also known as interstitial cystitis, is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder. The most common findings are ulceration, inflammation, oedema and small vessel bleeding.


How common is painful bladder syndrome?

The exact figures are not known. It is thought that nearly one million women and men in both the United States and Europe have this condition, with a female to male ratio of 5:1.


What are the symptoms of painful bladder syndrome?

Symptoms include urinary urgency (needing to pass urine quickly) and frequency (needing to pass urine often), with pelvic pain that varies from abdominal tenderness to intense pain.


What is thought to cause painful bladder syndrome?

The cause is unknown.


How is painful bladder syndrome diagnosed?

Inflammatory bladder wall changes can be diagnosed by cystoscopy (camera into the bladder).  However, cystoscopy can often be normal and diagnosis is based on symptoms.


How is painful bladder syndrome treated?

Drugs (amitriptyline, pentosan polysulfate sodium, prednisone, and ciclosporin) and minor surgery are effective treatments. In some patients symptoms are exacerbated by certain foods and drinks, so dietary advice can be helpful.