Physiotherapy for Interstitial Cystitis: Easing Bladder Pain and Discomfort

June 26, 2024

Pelvic floor physiotherapy focuses on the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues responsible for supporting pelvic organs like the bladder, uterus, and rectum. The pelvic floor muscles play a vast role in providing these organs, maintaining urinary and bowel continence, and facilitating sexual function. Pelvic floor physiotherapy in Edmonton utilizes a variety of techniques, exercises, and interventions aimed at addressing issues like pelvic pain, urinary or fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, sexual dysfunction, and prenatal and postpartum musculoskeletal issues.

What is Interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a persistent condition characterized by inflammation of the bladder wall, resulting in persistent bladder pain and urinary symptoms. It can substantially impact a person's quality of life, causing discomfort, frequent urination, urgency, and pelvic pain. Individuals with IC often experience varying levels of persistent discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region, which can be exacerbated by certain foods, stress, and physical activity. 

The symptoms of IC can range from mild to severe and may fluctuate over time, leading to emotional distress and challenges in daily activities. In addition to urinary symptoms, some individuals may also experience sexual dysfunction and sleep disturbances. 

How Does Pelvic Physiotherapy Help Alleviate Bladder Pain And Discomfort In Individuals With Interstitial Cystitis?

Pelvic floor physiotherapy can be a valuable component of a comprehensive treatment plan for individuals with interstitial cystitis (IC), commonly referred to as painful bladder syndrome. While the exact cause of IC remains incompletely understood, it's believed that pelvic floor dysfunction may contribute to symptoms such as bladder pain, urinary urgency, and frequency.

Here's how pelvic floor physiotherapy can help ease bladder pain and discomfort in individuals with IC:

Muscle Relaxation:

Many individuals with IC experience pelvic floor muscle tension or hypertonicity, which can exacerbate bladder symptoms. Pelvic floor physiotherapy in Edmonton utilizes techniques like manual therapy, stretching, and relaxation exercises are utilized to alleviate the pelvic floor muscles, thereby reducing bladder pain and discomfort.

Manual Therapy:

This encompasses hands-on techniques performed by a trained physiotherapist to release tension and tightness in the pelvic floor muscles. Manual therapy may include gentle massage, myofascial release, and trigger point therapy to diminish muscle tension and promote relaxation.

  • Massage: Gentle massage techniques applied to pelvic floor muscles release tension, targeting specific areas for relaxation and improved blood flow.
  • Myofascial Release: This applies sustained pressure to the fascia, restoring mobility and promoting relaxation in pelvic floor muscles.
  • Trigger Point Therapy: Physiotherapists use manual pressure or techniques like ischemic compression to release trigger points, easing bladder pain and promoting muscle relaxation.
  • Soft Tissue Mobilization: This technique improves flexibility, reduces tension, and alleviates bladder discomfort by gently stretching and manipulating the soft tissues surrounding pelvic floor muscles.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): This employs mild electrical impulses to alleviate bladder pain and discomfort. By targeting nerve pathways, TENS may help modulate pain signals and promote relaxation, offering relief from IC symptoms.


Specific stretching exercises are prescribed to lengthen and loosen tight pelvic floor muscles. These stretches may target areas of muscle tension and can be customized to tackle specific needs and symptoms.

  • Butterfly Stretch: Sitting with the soles of the feet together and knees bent out to the sides, gently pressing the knees toward the floor to stretch the inner thighs and pelvic floor muscles.
  • Cobbler's Pose: Sitting with the soles of the feet together and knees bent out to the sides, gently leaning forward to stretch the inner thighs and pelvic floor muscles.

Pelvic Floor Strengthening:

In some cases, individuals with IC may have weak or poorly coordinated pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor exercises prescribed by a physiotherapist can help strengthen these muscles, improve support for the bladder, and reduce symptoms of urgency and frequency.

Kegel Exercises:

Contracting and releasing the pelvic floor muscles to strengthen them. This can be done by squeezing the muscles as if attempting to halt the flow of urine, maintaining the contraction for a few seconds, and then relaxing. Repeat several times throughout the day.


Biofeedback is a method employed to assist individuals in developing awareness and mastery over pelvic floor muscle activity. By providing visual or auditory feedback, biofeedback can help patients learn to relax tense muscles and improve coordination, leading to reduced bladder symptoms. Some biofeedback techniques used include:

Intravaginal or Intrarectal EMG:

Electrodes are inserted into the vagina or rectum to directly measure pelvic floor muscle activity. This provides more accurate feedback on muscle function and coordination, helping patients improve muscle control and reduce bladder symptoms.

Surface Electromyography (EMG):

Electrodes are placed on the skin, overlaying the pelvic floor muscles to measure muscle activity. The patient receives visual or auditory cues, allowing them to observe changes in muscle tension and learn to relax tense muscles.

Comprehensive Approach:

Pelvic health physiotherapy is often integrated into a multidisciplinary approach to IC treatment, which may include medications, dietary changes, stress management techniques, and other interventions. By addressing pelvic floor dysfunction, female pelvic floor physiotherapy can complement other treatments and improve overall symptom management.

  • Dietary Changes: Patients may be advised to avoid bladder irritants like caffeine, alcohol, acidic foods, and artificial sweeteners to reduce bladder symptoms.
  • Bladder Training: Pelvic floor physiotherapists teach bladder training techniques to help control urinary urgency and frequency.

Towards Better Living: 

Pelvic floor physiotherapy in Edmonton serves as a valuable component in the comprehensive management of interstitial cystitis (IC). By addressing pelvic floor dysfunction through targeted techniques such as muscle relaxation, strengthening exercises, and biofeedback, patients can experience significant relief from chronic pain and discomfort associated with IC. Granville physiotherapy plays a vital role in improving overall symptom management and enhancing the quality of life for individuals living with IC. Its tailored approach, personalized interventions, and focus on empowering patients to regain control over their pelvic health highlight its importance in the holistic care of IC patients.



Urbansplatter Team

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