Without holistic care, you may not realize how one part of the body can impact another. An all-too-common example of this is the tight relationship between your bladder, pelvic joints, and low back. Many women and some men have experienced the pain of chronic urinary tract infections, but if you have these symptoms—like pain, pressure, or frequency—without any sign of infection in the bladder, you may want to ask your doctor about interstitial cystitis (IC).
What is Interstitial Cystitis?
Many IC sufferers are middle-aged or elderly women, but anyone, male or female, can experience the disorder at any age. The symptoms can mimic a bladder infection, but with IC, the problems are actually due to a faulty inner lining of the bladder. In severe cases, bleeding ulcers may appear in the bladder wall. Proper diagnosis is often the work of a urological specialist, and the symptoms of IC can vary from patient to patient:
- Internal and/or external pelvic pain
- Urinary frequency and/or urgency
- Waking up often during the night to use the bathroom
Seeing the Bigger Picture
Anyone with IC, or similar pelvic pain disorder, shouldn’t neglect the hips and back. A chronically painful bladder can result in irritated or dysfunctional pelvic floor muscles, which in turn can mean sore hip joints and back pain. Untreated, bladder/pelvic pain and back pain can become an endless negative loop, each exacerbating the other as the body tries to cope. Treating the urinary issues can soothe back pain, and treating the back can calm the bladder.
Coping with IC
While there is currently no known cure for IC, there are a variety of treatments available. Some help by calming overactive pelvic and spinal nerves, and others address the lining of the bladder itself. And some antidepressants have been shown to help patients reduce their pain and get more sleep. Beyond reducing stress as much as possible, there are also many lifestyle changes that can help:
- Avoiding acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus (there are many “IC diet” resources to try)
- Drinking water or non-acidic teas and juices: tea, coffee, caffeine, alcohol and soda can irritate the bladder
- Doing low-impact exercise and stretches to keep pelvic muscles relaxed
- Massage and physical therapy to soothe and strengthen the hips, legs and back.
If you’re troubled by persistent bladder or pelvic pain, see a urinary or gynecological specialist, and don’t forget to support your treatment by being kind to your back. We can help! Schedule an appointment with us today by calling (770) 421-1420 or clicking on our web contact form.