Painful Bladder Syndrome / Interstitial Cystitis (PBS/IC)

Painful Bladder SyndromeWhat is PBS/IC?

PBS/IC is a painful condition of the bladder, caused by the combination of two separate conditions: painful bladder syndrome and interstitial cystitis.

Painful bladder syndrome (PBS) is described as pain over the pubic area, usually occurring as the bladder fills with urine.

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is inflammation of the bladder. This may be present for a long time, and can be difficult to treat. It may also be associated with other problems.

What are the symptoms?

The typical symptoms of PBS/IC are pain in the bladder, urinary frequency (going more often) and urinary urgency (needing to go quickly).

Specific bladder pain associated with the condition will usually be felt as increased pain when the bladder is filling, followed by temporary relief of pain by emptying the bladder.

Urinary frequency - An individual with a normal, healthy bladder might expect to urinate around seven or eight times per day. A person with PBS/IC may need to empty the bladder much more often (up to several times an hour), simply to relieve the pain.

Urinary urgency - Patients may feel a pressing need to go to the toilet due to increasing pain or discomfort that becomes impossible to tolerate. Some may also feel generally unwell and nauseous at the same time.

How is PBS/IC caused?

The cause of PBS/IC is still unknown, but there may be many different causes including:

  • Infection with an unknown agent e.g. a slow-growing virus
  • Production of a toxic substance in the urine
  • Problems with the normal function of the pelvic floor
  • An autoimmune disorder when the body attacks its own healthy cells by mistake
  • Damage to the bladder itself or to the spinal cord in this region, for example as the result of an accident
  • A weakness in the protective layer inside the bladder. This layer is called the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) layer and it protects the bladder from the urine. If it becomes leaky, the urine damages the bladder and causes the symptoms of PBS/IC