​Painful Bladder Syndrome


Also known as interstitial cystitis, Painful Bladder Syndrome occurs when the bladder develops a an urgent and painful tendency to relieve itself excessively, leading to increased episodes of urination. This is accompanied with pelvic pain.

While the exact cause of this disease is not known, correlation has been found between bladder defects, allergies, blood vessel defects and mast cell abnormalities.

Painful bladder syndrome has a tendency to develop gradually and stay for a long period of time. This gives it the classification of a chronic disease. It is more prevalent in women and has the potential of considerably affecting the quality of life.

Symptoms for painful bladder syndrome include:

  • frequent and urgent urination

  • pain in the pelvis

  • discomfort in the bladder

If you have been experiencing bladder pain or urgency in urination for a considerable time, you should see your doctor or consult the physicians from the Kidney and Bladder Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital.

The symptoms of painful bladder syndrome resemble those of other diseases. It is important that a proper diagnosis be performed early on for a timely treatment.
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Tests for painful bladder syndrome may initially include an analysis of the urine and blood stream to identify any infection. A pelvic exam might also be conducted to examine your pelvic organs (vagina, cervix, etc.) along with rectum and anus. 

Some doctors rely on the potassium sensitivity test for an indication of the painful bladder syndrome.  This test compares your urgency to urinate with two different solutions (water and potassium chloride) in your bladder.

For a visual examination, your doctor might decide to examine the inner lining of the bladder by inserting a long, thin, camera-fitted tube via path of the urethra. This process is called cystoscopy.

Finally, for a decisive diagnosis, biopsy of the bladder might be performed. This process involves removing tissues from the bladder for lab analysis.

Painful bladder syndrome of low intensity might only require oral medications for treatment.

Avoiding certain types of food (e.g. acidic) and conducting physical exercises might also help relieve the symptoms.

For moderate to severe symptoms, bladder medication, nerve stimulation and bladder stretching might be needed.
The nerve stimulation procedure might involve sacral nerve stimulation or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).

Bladder distension is the process of stretching the bladder with water or gas repetitively over a period of time to make the bladder more flexible.

Finally, if conditions increase in severity, surgery might be required to remove part or the entire bladder. Surgical options range from minimally invasive methods to replacement of bladder portions with one or multiple pieces of colon.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.