Complementary and Alternative Medicine for the Management of Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome: a Recent Update


Purpose of Review

Interstitial cystitis and/or bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) affect many women in the USA and management of IC/BPS can be challenging for the providers. In addition to conventional treatment options outlined by the American Urologic Association (AUA) guidelines, many complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) have been gaining popularity. Our study aims to review recent publications on CAM and management of IC/BPS.

Recent Finding

Our literature search included all studies that addressed complementary or alternative methods of treating IC/BPS patients from the last 5 years. We have identified studies that involve the following categories: diet therapy, acupuncture therapy, mind-body intervention, pelvic floor physical therapy, and massage. We have found that intensive dietary manipulation can improve symptoms of IC/BPS, and the effect can last up to a year. Acupuncture therapy can be effective in managing IC/BPS symptoms in the first 3 months after intervention, but the effect decreased over time. Mind-body interventions can be used as an adjunct to the usual care in the treatment of IC/BPS, and it helped improve the Global Response Assessment scores. Lastly, Thiele massage demonstrated negative impact in the perception of pain in patients with IC/BPS and should not be used as a monotherapy.


Current studies are limited by small number of patients and mixed quality of evidence. Larger, high-quality studies are needed to evaluate the effect of CAM on IC/BPS symptoms. Other forms of CAM as well as combined therapies should also be studied in the future. Our review concluded that providers should consider CAM as an adjunct in the treatment of IC/BPS.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to Kristene E. Whitmore.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on BPS/Interstitial Cystitis

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Jia, X., Crouss, T., Rana, N. et al. Complementary and Alternative Medicine for the Management of Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome: a Recent Update. Curr Bladder Dysfunct Rep (2020).

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  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
  • Interstitial cystitis (IC)
  • Bladder pain syndrome (BPS)