Men with Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS), or Chronic Prostatitis Category III, suffer from pelvic pain, painful, frequent, urgent, or difficult urination, as well as sexual dysfunction. The pain can be intense or dull and is generally located on the pelvic floor, in the genitals, lower back, or the lower abdomen. These symptoms can be severe and affect all aspects of your life, resulting in depression, lost work and educational opportunities, and trouble in relationships. CPPS is the most common form of chronic prostatitis.
What Causes Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome?
The exact cause of Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome is not entirely understood. Prostatitis was originally thought to be caused by inflammation caused by a bacterial infection within the prostate. But most men have symptoms without an infection (1). Many men who have CPPS symptoms do not have any inflammation. In my experience, most patients have pelvic pain stemming from muscle tightness in the pelvis, back, abdomen, and legs. The gluteus maximus and medius, adductor magnus, and illopsoas are among the most common muscles which refer pain to the pelvic floor. In addition, sacro-iliac joint dysfunction is very commonly a cause. Other factors may include contracture of smooth muscle of the bladder, emotional stress, and possible inflammation after an infection (2).
I went to Joe with chronic pelvic pain along with a general feeling of malaise. I had never had acupuncture before and it was an act of desperation on my part. Joe took an active and sincere interest in what was bothering me. It is now about 3 months since I first started seeing Joe and I have never felt better. Seeing Joe was one of the best decisions of my life.
M.B. New Jersey
How does acupuncture help treat Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine provide a holistic approach to healing and are effective treatments to relieve the pain, improve sexual function, and decrease urinary problems associated with Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. Acupuncture is a natural treatment with very few side effects.
In fact, Chinese medicine’s 2000 years of history could possibly make it the most used treatment for Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome of all time. In one of Chinese medicine’s earliest text called Elementary Questions, TCM has described the diagnosis and treatment many syndromes characterized by painful, frequent, and urgent urination with pain and distention of the lower abdomen and pelvis (3). Of course, this syndrome was not called Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome or Chronic Prostatitis at the time. But the practice of Chinese medicine has shown that those same principles of diagnosis and treatment are effective when applied to the symptoms caused by Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has a holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment, identifying specific imbalances in the body and using acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and acupressure to correct them. We will consider symptoms of pain, urinary changes, sexual dysfunction, as well as digestion, energy, sleep are all factored into identifying the cause of the issues. Correcting the imbalance does not just treat the symptoms or mask the condition, but rather corrects the root of the problem by encouraging self-healing of the body.
Physiological, acupuncture works to reduce pain and inflammation through regulating neural pain pathways, stimulating the release of natural pain relievers in the body, such as opioids, as well as regulating pain relieving opioid receptors. Many studies have also shown acupuncture to have a anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the circulating inflammatory hormones in the blood (4).
What is the Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine treatment like for Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome?
Chinese medicine works best as a combination therapy that includes acupuncture, tui na (acupressure), and other therapies such as gua sha and cupping. Chinese herbs are also effective and may be required for certain people. Acupuncture diagnosis and treatment focuses on identifying the specific root imbalance causing the condition and tailoring the treatment for you.
During the first visit, I will complete a medical history and an in depth physical examination, which focuses on an examination of acupuncture points and trigger points of the lower back, abdomen, hips, and pelvis. This information creates the picture of the specific imbalance causing the problem.
Often, men will have significant reduction in pain within a few weeks of treatment. The full treatment normally lasts 3-4 months. It is like peeling off the layers of an onion until you correct the root cause of the problem. Throughout the course of treatment we discuss stretches and techniques to maintain health and prevent flare ups.BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
1. Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (Current Clinical Urology). Daniel A. Shoskes (ed.) Humama, Totowa, NJ. 2008.
2. Honjo H, Kamoi K., Naya Y, et al. The Effects if Acupuncture for Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome with Intravenous Congestion: Preliminary Results. International Journal of Urology. 2004 Aug; 11(8): 607-612.
3. Wiseman N, Feng Y. A Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine. Brookline, MA: Paradigm; 1998:583.
4. Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869.