Massage to treat Interstitial Cystitis
Managing your IC can be an exercise in creativity and frustration. Many patients with interstitial cystitis use complementary or alternative therapies once they realize that the medical world is still lacking in highly effective treatments for our disorder. Like we have mentioned before: IC is highly individual. What symptoms you have, what triggers your flares, what helps you feel better all vary between people.
A principle of coping with IC is this: You have to find what works for you.
One issue that many patients with interstitial cystitis deal with is pelvic floor dysfunction. Most people don’t understand how this group of muscles can contribute to the pain of a bad IC flare. Here is an excerpt from a research article that does excellent job explaining (warning, it is a bit technical, so it may take reading it a few times to truly get it!)
“The pelvic floor musculature performs an important role in the tonic support of the pelvic viscera provided by a preponderance of slow-twitch (type I) fibers. In addition, fast-twitch (type II) fibers within the levator ani provide active periurethral muscle contraction with increased intra-abdominal pressure. An increase in pelvic floor muscle tone occurs during bladder filling via a guarding reflex, accompanied by bombardment by unmyelinated C-fiber afferents with an increased somatic efferent stimulation of the pelvic floor muscles during vesical distension. In IC patients, the result is high-tone pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. High-tone pelvic floor muscle dysfunction has also been known as coccygodynia, tension myalgia, levator ani spasm, and levator syndrome. Nociceptive, afferent C-fibers become active in response to bladder inflammation or irritation, resulting in pain and reflex voiding. A sustained guarding reflex manifests as pelvic floor muscle hypertonus.”
Make sense? So what are some good ways of treating this?
YAY, a medical reason for getting a massage!! But, we aren’t actually talking about the type of massage you get at a day spa (though we recommend you DO get one of those! You deserve it).
We are talking about a special type of massage called “Thiele massage”. Thiele’s massage is a particular method of massage to the posterior pelvic floor muscles including the coccygeus muscle. IT is useful for treating high-tone pelvic floor disorders, including IC. It isn’t something your massage therapist will offer. Thiele massage should be completed by a PT or medical provider who has been trained in the technique.
And there is research to support it:
Thiele massage appears to be very helpful in improving irritative bladder symptoms in patients with interstitial cystitis and high-tone pelvic floor dysfunction in addition to decreasing pelvic floor muscle tone. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15533464
Another randomized multicenter trial of myofascial physical therapy for the treatment of urological chronic pelvic pain syndromes compared general global massage to myofascial types of massage (like “Thiele massage”). The response rate was 57% in the myofascial physical therapy group and was significantly higher than the rate of 21% in the global therapeutic massage ( basically, a standard whole body massage) treatment group. Lesson here? Get both!
So how do you find someone locally to help you get the right type of massage therapy for your IC symptoms? Use google. Try inputting this search term into the google search box and using the name of where you live:
pelvic floor PT “insert your city name here”
If you want to read more about techniques (including massage) for dealing with the pelvic floor issues and how they relate to interstitial cystitis symptoms, here are a few books to check out:
**Disclaimer: NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. See more information here By reading this website, you acknowledge that you are responsible for your own health decisions. Do not take anything from any website, including this one, and try it without proper research and medical supervision.