Interstitial Cystitis is a chronic inflammatory condition of the urinary bladder characterized by pain or ache in the pelvic region. Those with interstitial cystitis (IC) know firsthand how uncomfortable the condition can be. The Interstitial Cystitis Association estimates that four to twelve million people may be affected by interstitial cystitis. Many believe that the condition is caused by a trigger, such as pelvic surgery or certain types of infections, which in turn leaves damage to the lining of the bladder. Interstitial cystitis is more common in women than in men, but anyone can get interstitial cystitis, regardless of their sex.

Although the symptoms of interstitial cystitis vary greatly from person to person, those with the disease often report a chronic feeling of discomfort or pressure in the pelvis or bladder, frequently needing to urinate, and pain during sexual intercourse. Fortunately, if managed properly, those with IC can live relatively normal, healthy lives. Below, Massachusetts medical marijuana doctor will explore the symptoms and treatments for interstitial cystitis, and examine how effective medical marijuana is at treating the condition.

How is Interstitial Cystitis Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of interstitial cystitis is generally reached after other bladder disorders are ruled out. Many bladder conditions present with similar signs and symptoms as interstitial cystitis. The diagnosis can only definitively be made by having a look at the lining of the bladder — this procedure is called a Cystoscopy, and is generally performed as an outpatient procedure.

There is presently no cure for interstitial cystitis, but the condition can be effectively managed with the right help. It is important that those with interstitial cystitis speak to their physician to create a treatment plan that is right for them. If you think you have interstitial cystitis and have not already, please schedule a medical exam with your healthcare provider immediately.

Common Treatments for Interstitial Cystitis

Although there is currently no cure for interstitial cystitis, there are a variety of treatment options available to make symptoms more tolerable. It is common for those with interstitial cystitis to use a variety of medicines and treatments to control the disorder. Since the symptoms of interstitial cystitis vary greatly in those with the disease, treatments for interstitial cystitis tend to also be very individualized. it is important that those who have interstitial cystitis work closely with their physician to manage their symptoms, especially if they take multiple medications side by side.

Currently, Pentosan polysulfate sodium (Elmiron) is the only oral medication that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of interstitial cystitis. However, those with interstitial cystitis may find that making modifications to their diet greatly improves their symptoms. Your doctor may perform an array of allergy tests or have you begin an elimination diet in order to rule out food-related causes of interstitial cystitis. Physical therapy may also be used to strengthen pelvic floor muscle function.

Those with interstitial cystitis may also take a number of other prescription drugs to relieve pain and pressure in their bladder, including narcotic and non-narcotic pain medications. In addition, many may take over-the-counter medicines like aspirin, acetaminophen, and NSAID pain relievers like ibuprofen and Aleve. Other common treatments for interstitial cystitis include immunosuppressants, antihistamines, and neuromodulation, also known as electrical nerve stimulation.

Can I Use Medical Marijuana to Treat Interstitial Cystitis?

For many with interstitial cystitis, pain is often the most difficult symptom to manage. The benefits of medical cannabis may offer a solution to managing pain. THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, has been used for hundreds of years for treatment of pain and has over 60 years of conclusive evidence to support its use for pain management. THC also has powerful anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, and neuroprotective properties, making it an effective treatment for those who suffer from intense pain and inflammation.

For those who already take prescription painkillers to treat their interstitial cystitis, THC may be an appropriate addition. However, THC may increase one’s urge to urinate, meaning that although it may be an effective alternative to narcotics for managing pain, it may make other symptoms of interstitial cystitis worse. If you are considering using medical marijuana to help manage your interstitial cystitis, please consider speaking to a trained cannabis specialist who can best assist you in using cannabis to complement your treatment plan. It is important that those who incorporate medical marijuana into their treatment plan for interstitial cystitis continue to take their prescription medications as prescribed by their physician. Medical cannabis alone cannot effectively treat interstitial cystitis; those who choose to use cannabis for their interstitial cystitis, or any medical condition, should not cease conventional treatments.

Consult With a Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Specialist About Your Interstitial Cystitis Diagnosis

If you are considering using cannabis alongside your current treatment plan for interstitial cystitis, consider meeting with our Boston medical marijuana doctor who has experience helping patients with interstitial cystitis and similar bladder disorders use medical marijuana. I have spent years assisting patients with bladder conditions with cannabis, and can help you determine if medical marijuana is right for you. For more information, or to set up a consultation with my team at InhaleMD, call us at (617) 861-8519 today.