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Bladder Pain


Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is bladder pain?

Bladder pain can result from inflammation, infection, damage or injury to the bladder. The symptoms may be constant or variable and may improve or worsen with movement. The pain may be described as sharp, dull, stabbing, burning or throbbing, and can range in intensity from mild to severe.

There are many potential causes of bladder pain. Urinary tract infection and interstitial cystitis are among the most common. Interstitial cystitis is a poorly understood bladder abnormality that is related to the central nervous system’s ability to regulate the bladder. It causes bladder pain that may also be accompanied by pain in the genitals, pelvis and anal region. Urinary tract infection is a cause of bladder pain that is typically accompanied by pain with urination, increased urinary frequency, or urgency (pressing need to urinate).

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In other cases, bladder pain may come from a chronic underlying disease, such as cancer, endometriosis, and bowel disorders. Malignant tumors can cause bladder pain, as well as pain with urination, abdominal pain, and bloody urine. Most early cases of bladder cancer are painless. Bladder scarring or damage to adjoining structures, such as the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the bladder, may also contribute to bladder pain. If the urethra is constricted (due to scarring or a urethral stricture), urine may remain in the bladder, leading to pain and infection.

The duration and course of bladder pain vary widely depending on the cause. Bladder pain may be present constantly, sporadically, or only when the bladder is full.

Bladder pain may be associated with a serious condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience the following symptoms: high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), the inability to urinate, or severe abdominal pain.

If you have difficulty urinating, notice blood in your urine, or if your bladder pain is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 16, 2016

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Medical References

  1. What I need to know about interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC).
  2. Urinary tract infection - adults. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
  3. Hanno PM, Burks DA, Clemens JQ, et al. AUA guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. J Urol 2011; 185:2162.

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