(646) 355-8777

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy for Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic pain condition characterized by both pelvic pain and urinary symptoms.  It’s diagnosed by unexplained pain or pressure that is perceived to be related to the bladder, and affects more than 12 million Americans.  It’s often described as the sensation of a urinary tract infection, but without any bacterial infection.  Many patients report severe pain, often more intense than that associated with bladder cancer, and up to 85% of patients have accompanying pelvic floor dysfunction.

Pelvic floor physical therapy is the most proven treatment for interstitial cystitis.  It’s recommended by the American Urological Association (AUA) as a first-line medical treatment in their IC Guidelines, and is the only treatment given an evidence grade of ‘A’.  Furthermore, it’s the sole intervention that provides sustained relief; bladder treatments and oral medications must be continued indefinitely to provide benefit, if they work at all.


Research has demonstrated that at least 85% of patients with interstitial cystitis also have pelvic floor dysfunction.  In fact, many of the symptoms of IC can only be explained by the pelvic floor.  The majority of patients report painful intercourse, low back pain, hip pain, or constipation accompanying the condition; symptoms that have nothing to do with the bladder.

“More than 20 years of research supported by the National Institutes of Health and industry have failed to show that bladder-directed therapy is superior to placebo [for IC].  This fact suggests that the bladder may be an innocent bystander in a larger pelvic process.  As clinicians, we must be willing to look beyond the bladder and examine for pelvic floor issues and other causes of patient’s symptoms and not be too quick to begin bladder-focused treatments.” – Dr. Kenneth PetersPatients discover that Pelvic PT is an option

Despite this, many patients don’t learn about pelvic floor physical therapy for years after their diagnosis.  Many have to discover pelvic PT for themselves, or their doctor only mentions physical therapy as a last resort.  At PelvicSanity, we just published a study of our interstitial cystitis patients in the International Pelvic Pain Society (IPPS) meeting, reporting on both patient outcomes and their experience with the medical system following their IC diagnosis.


In following the results for thirteen consecutive patients with an interstitial cystitis diagnosis, patients reported more than a 60% improvement in pain, symptom bother, and how much symptoms limited their daily activities.  On average, their pain level was at a 7.6 out of 10 upon initial evaluation, which fell to 2.6 after treatment.

ICimpPatients saw a relatively rapid improvement in their symptoms with treatment.  Over half (54%) reported an improvement in symptoms within their first three visits; 31% saw their first improvement in visits 4-6 and 15% required ten or more visits for subjective improvement.  Importantly, all patients in the study reported a better understanding of their condition and feeling more hopeful for recovery after their initial evaluation.


More than half of these patients reported seeing five or more medical doctors for their condition prior to beginning pelvic floor physical therapy, and had been prescribed multiple medications and undergone bladder treatments without success.  However, only a single respondent (7.7%) believed they had been referred to pelvic PT by their doctor at the appropriate time.  Nearly half (46%) had to find out about pelvic floor physical therapy for interstitial cystitis themselves, while the remainder felt they had been referred by their doctor far too late, as a last resort.

With more than 12 million women and men suffering with this condition in the United States alone, increasing education – for both doctors and patients – is vital.  In our upcoming course for physical therapists in treating interstitial cystitis (April 28-29, 2018 in San Diego), we’ll focus on the most important physical therapy techniques for IC, home stretching and self-care programs, and information to guide patients in creating a holistic treatment plan

An Introduction to Mindful Awareness Training for ...
Trauma Informed Treatment Approach

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://hermanwallace.com/

Upcoming Continuing Education Courses

Yoga for Pelvic Pain - Remote Course

May 15, 2021 - May 16, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Oncology of the Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Remote Course

May 15, 2021 - May 16, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pregnancy Rehabilitation - Remote Course (SOLD OUT)

May 15, 2021 - May 16, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Sacral Nerve Manual Assessment and Treatment - Remote Course

May 15, 2021 - May 16, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Male Pelvic Floor - Self Hosted

May 15, 2021 - May 16, 2021
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Male Pelvic Floor - Ann Arbor, MI Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

May 15, 2021 - May 16, 2021
Location: Probility Physical Therapy

Male Pelvic Floor - Athens, GA Satellite Location

May 15, 2021 - May 16, 2021
Location: Thrive Integrated Medicine

Male Pelvic Floor - Richmond, VA Satellite Location

May 15, 2021 - May 16, 2021
Location: Pivot Physical Therapy

Breathing and the Diaphragm - Remote Course

May 15, 2021 - May 16, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Male Pelvic Floor - Livonia, MI Satellite Location

May 15, 2021 - May 16, 2021
Location: Mendelson Kornblum Physical Therapy

Male Pelvic Floor - Oakland, CA Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

May 15, 2021 - May 16, 2021
Location: Kaiser Permanente

Male Pelvic Floor - Gilbert, AZ Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

May 15, 2021 - May 16, 2021
Location: OneAccord Physical Therapy

Athletes & Pelvic Rehabilitation - Remote Course

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Wallingford, CT Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Ivy Rehab Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Grand Haven, MI Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Ivy Rehab Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Lisle, IL Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Ivy Rehab Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Los Angeles, CA Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Origin Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Worcester, MA Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Central Mass PT & Wellness

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Mill Creek, WA Satellite Course (SOLD OUT)

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Premier Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Greenville, SC Satellite Course (SOLD OUT)

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: His Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Self-Hosted

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Burlington, NC Satellite Course (SOLD OUT)

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Stewart Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Bedford, TX Satellite Course

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Beyond Therapy and Wellness PLLC

Pediatric Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders - Remote Course

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Replacement Remote Course

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Idyllwild, CA Satellite Course

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Moving Lively

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Self-Hosted

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Self-Hosted Course

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Orland Park, IL Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Palos Community Hospital

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Belle Chasse, LA Satellite Location

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Rehab Access Belle Chasse

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Buffalo, NY Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Advanced Care Physical Therapy of WNY

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Manchester, NH Satellite Location (SOLD OUT)

May 22, 2021 - May 23, 2021
Location: Franklin Pierce University