Persistent bladder pain affects the quality of life considerably. Why it occurs is not exactly known, and there may be more than one cause.

The diagnosis is made when no other causes of bladder pain can be found. It often coexists with other chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.

This condition is not to be confused with overactive bladder syndrome, which presents with urinary urgency, but typically not with bladder pain.

Symptoms and diagnosis

The possible symptoms include:

  • Bladder discomfort, especially with the bladder filling and eased with emptying
  • Urinary urgency
  • Frequent emptying of bladder during the day
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pain with emptying (voiding) bladder
  • Nocturia (frequent waking overnight to empty the bladder)
  • Dyspareunia (painful sex)
  • Pelvic tenderness felt on examination.

The aim of treatment is to provide symptom relief. There is a wide range of therapies used. Education and psychological support are necessary because of the impact of the symptoms on mood and wellbeing.

interstital cystitis painful bladder syndrome