Bladder Pain

Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Bladder pain diagnosis

Bladder pain itself is not a diagnosis; it is a symptom. Rather, if you experience bladder pain, pressure, or related problems, your healthcare provider will likely diagnose the underlying cause of these symptoms.

The testing used to diagnose your condition can vary. Generally, your provider will begin by consulting your medical history and asking about your signs and symptoms.

Bladder pain syndrome diagnosis

There is no one test that can determine that you have BPS. If you experience the signs and symptoms of the condition, your healthcare provider will likely examine your lower abdomen and lower back and inquire about your symptoms.

Your provider may also administer tests to rule out the possibility of other underlying conditions, including UTIs, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or bladder cancer.

Some tests22 your healthcare provider may use include:

  • Urinalysis: A clean sample of your urine may be taken and analyzed in a lab to determine whether you may have a UTI or STI.
  • Cystoscopy: This test involves using an instrument called a cystoscope (a thin tube with a tiny camera) to see the inside of your bladder. This can help reveal problems like ulcers, bleeding, stones, or cancer.
  • Bladder distention: This test may be performed during a cystoscopy after you’ve been numbed with an anesthetic. Your provider will fill your bladder with liquid, causing it to stretch and expand. This is used to determine how much urine your bladder is able to hold.
  • Biopsy: This test involves taking samples of bladder and urethra tissues (biopsies) to be examined for signs of bladder cancer and other possible causes of bladder pain. This test can also be performed during a cystoscopy under anesthesia.

Urinary tract infection diagnosis

If you believe you may have a urinary tract infection, your healthcare provider will likely begin by asking23 you about your signs and symptoms. They will probably also ask whether you have had a UTI before, as well as whether you are sexually active (and, if so, what kind of birth control you use, as this may be a contributing factor).

Your healthcare provider will likely conduct testing to determine whether you have an infection. Some tests and procedures used to diagnose24 UTIs include:

  • Urinalysis: This test involves collecting a sample of your urine for lab analysis. Your provider will look for the presence of white blood cells (which can indicate infection), red blood cells, or bacteria.
  • Urine culture: Sometimes, urinalysis is followed by a urine culture. This test involves cultivating your urinary bacteria in a lab. This allows your provider to identify the bacteria that are causing your infection (and, therefore, determine what type of medication will be the most effective in treating your infection).
  • Imaging tests: If you have frequent UTIs and your provider suspects that an abnormality in your urinary tract may be the cause, imaging tests like ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used to look at your urinary tract.
  • Cystoscopy: If you have recurrent UTIs, you may undergo a cystoscopy—a procedure that uses a long, thin tube with a lens (called a cystoscope) to look inside your bladder and urethra.

By definition25, a symptomatic UTI is diagnosed when at least 105 colony-forming units of bacteria per milliliter are present in one urine sample. Asymptomatic bacteriuria, on the other hand, is defined by the presence of bacteria in the urine without any of the clinical signs or symptoms of a typical UTI.

Bladder stones diagnosis

Bladder stones may be diagnosed26 using a physical exam and imaging tests, which include:

  • Urinalysis: Analyzing a urine sample for traces of blood, bacteria, and crystallized minerals can help identify bladder stones. This test can also find signs of urinary tract infections, which can both cause or be caused by bladder stones.
  • X-ray: An X-ray of your urinary tract—including your kidneys, ureters, and bladder—can help determine the presence of kidney stones. X-rays may not detect all types of bladder stones, however.
  • CT scan: Computerized tomography (CT) scans help produce clear images of the inside of your bladder. They can detect very tiny stones that may otherwise be missed.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound is a high-frequency sound that bounces off organs and other firm body structures. This produces images that can help identify bladder stones.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.