Acupuncture for Chronic Prostatitis Category III: Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome

Acupuncture can help and has been shown to relief pain in men with Chronic pelvic pain. I have helped many people with chronic pelvic pain through acupuncture and electroacupuncture therapies.

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. But many men have symptoms without an infection (1) Some men who have CPPS symptoms do not even have any inflammation. Many, including myself, believe that CPPS is caused by referred pain from muscle tightness and trigger points in the pelvis and back that is related to emotional stress. In some people, inflammation and stress after an infection can lead to chronic pelvic pain.

How does acupuncture help treat Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome?

Treating CPPS requires a holistic approach addressing that naturally corrects the underlying cause of the pain and distress.  Acupuncture provides a holistic approach to healing and are effective treatments to relieve the pain, improve sexual function, and decrease urinary problems, as well as relief depression associated with Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. Research has shown that acupuncture is effective for reducing pain in CPPS. Acupuncture also has 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.

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 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 in the muscles. This information creates the picture of the specific imbalance causing the problem.

Acupuncture is most effective through a treatment course.  The treatment should decrease pain and urinary complaints, and improvement in sexual function. Many people find rapid relief, within about a month of beginning the treatment. For others, it may take longer to have an effect. Generally, patients come in for acupuncture once to twice a week depending on the severity, and gradually get acupuncture less frequently.  The treatment generally lasts 3-4 months.

The pain and other symptoms are gradually lessened. It is like peeling off the layers of an onion until you correct the root cause of the problem.   The results are usually long lasting and patents have few symptoms.

References:

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.

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
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