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Treating Interstitial Cystitis: Special Therapies and Surgery

Healthcare provider working with patient on pelvic floor biofeedback.

Interstitial cystitis is a painful bladder condition. Certain treatments can help manage interstitial cystitis and relieve pain. Some people find these treatments work well. But others don’t find them useful. You and your healthcare provider can discuss what’s best for you.


Biofeedback is a painless treatment. It uses sensors and a computer screen. The sensors are placed on your belly (abdomen). The sensors read signals given off by your muscles. These signals are turned into lines on a computer screen. When you move your bladder muscles, you can see changes in the lines. Several sessions of biofeedback may help you better control your bladder muscles. This may help reduce your symptoms.

Electrical stimulation

This involves sending electricity into the area around your bladder. It may help ease symptoms by blocking the nerve sensations to and from the bladder. It may also improve blood flow and strengthen the pelvic muscles. During the therapy, wires are placed on the skin of the lower back or abdomen. Mild electric pulses are then sent into the body. This is done for several minutes to a few hours. The therapy may be repeated 1 or more times daily. This may continue for several weeks to months. This treatment is sometimes called TENS.

Other types of treatments

Therapeutic massage of the abdominal and pelvic muscles using heat or ice may help give you relief. Acupuncture, the therapeutic use of needles, has helped ease pain in some cases.


Surgery may be advised for severe cases that are not helped by any other treatment. Surgery is not always useful. If your healthcare provider advises surgery, he or she can discuss the risks and benefits with you.

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Marc Greenstein MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2019
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