TENS and Self-Help Strategies for Interstitial Cystitis Treatment
With transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), mild electric pulses enter the body for a given period of time two or more times a day, either through wires placed on the lower back or just above the pubic area, between the navel and the pubic hair, or through special devices inserted into the vagina in women or into the rectum in men.
Although researchers do not know exactly how TENS relieves pelvic pain, it has been suggested that the electrical pulses may increase blood flow to the bladder, strengthen pelvic muscles that help control the bladder, or trigger the release of substances that block pain.
TENS is a relatively inexpensive way to treat interstitial cystitis and allows people to take an active part in their healthcare. Within some guidelines, the patient decides when, how long, and at what intensity TENS will be used. It has been most helpful in relieving pain and decreasing frequency in patients with Hunner's ulcers. Smokers do not respond as well as nonsmokers. If TENS is going to help, improvement is usually apparent in three to four months.
Self-help strategies for treating this condition can include:
- A bland diet
- Quitting smoking
- Bladder training.
There is no scientific evidence linking diet to interstitial cystitis, but many healthcare providers recommend a bland diet. Doctors also recommend avoiding high-acid foods, such as citrus fruits, which may irritate the bladder, or spicy foods, which may cause the release of histamine.
Restricting alcoholic beverages, carbonated sodas, coffee and other caffeinated products, and beverages and foods with artificial sweeteners appears to reduce symptoms in some people.
(Click Interstitial Cystitis Diet for more information on this self-help strategy.)