Pain & IC

Interstitial cystitis (IC) can be severely painful and incapacitating and may require aggressive pain management medicines such as opiate therapy when more conservative approaches fail. People with IC can experience both acute and chronic pain:

    • Acute pain: has a sudden beginning and lasts for a shorter time period
    • Chronic pain: recurs frequently or lasts for a longer time period

Many IC patients find some pain relief from performing simple techniques that can be done at home:

    • Place a cold pack, heating pad or hot water bottle directly on the perineum. Experiment to see whether cold or heat works best for you. Women place in area between the anus and vagina; men in area between the anus and base of penis.
    • Take a warm sitz bath, with or without Epsom salts. Draw a small amount of water into the bathtub or use a plastic sitz bath (available at drug stores), which fits over the toilet.
    • Place your knees against your chest, reclining with spread legs or adopting a squatting position.
    • Drink a glass of water mixed with one teaspoon of baking soda. Consult your doctor before taking if you are on a salt-restricted diet.
    • Keep a pain diary can also be helpful in determining patterns and triggers for pain and can help healthcare providers in prescribing the most appropriate treatment plan.

In addition to pain medicines, nonpharmacologic treatments for IC pain: diet modification, physical therapy (pelvic floor relaxation exercises), acupuncture/acupressure, electric nerve stimulation, biofeedback training, hypnosis and cognitive therapy.

By examining the differences in how men and women experience pain, researchers hope to better understand why more women than men experience chronic painful conditions such as IC pain.


Revised June 02, 2011