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Painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis)

Painful bladder syndrome causes pain around the bladder, lower back, abdomen, anus, genitals and above the pubic bone area.

What is Painful Bladder Syndrome?

Painful Bladder Syndrome (also known as Interstitial Cystitis) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder, which unlike bacterial cystitis; it is not caused by common bacteria, and does not respond to traditional antibiotic treatment. Painful bladder syndrome is not stress-related. Pain can be also felt not only around the bladder, but also in the lower back, abdomen, anus, genitals and above the pubic bone area.

How is Painful Bladder Syndrome treated?

The cause of painful bladder syndrome is not fully understood. It may be triggered by a rare organism, or may be related to abnormalities in the nerve endings or the lining of the bladder. Sufferers of painful bladder syndrome often spend a long period being treated with conventional antibiotics for cystitis without success, before being diagnosed with the condition.

Painful bladder syndrome is diagnosed by a number of different tests – it is necessary to rule out other causes of bladder problems before establishing IC as the cause of problems. Therefore patients will need to undergo a urodynamics test and cystoscopy.

Various medical therapies are usually used. However, the symptoms can be controlled with what is known as Bladder Installation Therapy when a combination of medication in a liquid solution is flushed into the bladder.


Author: Mr Zaki Almallah, Consultant Urologist, MD; FRCS (Urol)  practising at BMI The Priory Hospital. For further information visit

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