The symptoms of IC are basically the symptoms of UTI, only more stubborn and painful. IC is often misdiagnosed as UTI, until it refuses to respond to antibiotics. IC symptoms may also initially be attributed to prostatitis or epididymitis (in men) and endometriosis or uterine fibroids (in women).
Traditional medications work to repair and hopefully rebuild the wounded bladder lining, allowing for a reduction in symptoms. But FDA-approved therapies for IC have had recent setbacks in various research studies.
Pelvic-floor dysfunction may also be a contributing factor to IC symptoms. Most major IC clinics now evaluate the pelvic floor and/or refer patients directly to a physical therapist for a prompt treatment of pelvic floor muscle tension or weakness. The tension is often described as a burning sensation, particularly in the vagina.
Muscle tension is the primary cause of pain and discomfort in IC patients who experience pain during intercourse. Tender trigger points (small tight bundles of muscle) may also be found in the pelvic floor.
Exercises such as Kegels can be helpful as they strengthen the muscles, but they can provoke pain and additional muscle tension. A specially trained physical therapist can provide direct, specific evaluation of the muscles, both externally and internally.