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Acupuncture for Prostatitis and Pelvic Pain
By: Joseph Alban MS, L.Ac
Difficult, painful, urgent, and frequent urination, as well as blood in the urine, back pain, or erectile dysfunction are all common symptoms of men with chronic prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome.  Physicians of China and the Far East have been using acupuncture to treat these symptoms for over 2000 years.  Even though as many as 35% of men over the age of 50 suffer from chronic prostatitis, few know they can use acupuncture for treatment.  

Most Americans tend to think of acupuncture for back and knee pain.  In China, people seek acupuncture for a wide range of diseases, including chronic prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, and benign prostatic hypertrophy (BHP).  In the acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) departments of the Hunan University of TCM, I saw first hand many men finding relief from the symptoms of those conditions.

Disease occurs when the body is in disharmony.  When imbalances develop in qi (often translated as energy but can also mean function) and blood circulation, illness occurs.  Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis for the acupuncture treatment identifies the specific disharmony by analysing the symptoms such as the presence of pain, cloudy or bloody urination, urinary inhibition, as well as the reduction or increase in urine flow.  Also, the practitioner carefully takes the pulse and looks at the tongue, which together reflect the internal state.  Generally, prostatitis will be caused by an internal disharmony of qi and blood or an excess of pathogenic substances such as dampness, heat, or damp heat.  

The acupuncture treatment is individualized to each patient's presentation.  The goal of the treatment is to balance the disharmony, open the acupuncture channels, and stop pain.  For some, this may also include stopping bleeding, smoothing urination, and clearing cloudiness.  The treatment achieves this goal by regulating the qi flow throughout the body, particularly the lower abdomen and sacral regions.  Acupuncture points for chronic prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome tend to be on the lower abdomen, lower back, sacrum, and legs.  Electroacupuncture and moxibustion may also be used to augment the acupuncture itself.  Generally, a treatment course consists of five to ten acupuncture treatments once or twice a week.  For chronic prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome, improvement is gradual but can be long lasting.   
    
A few pilot studies have shown positive results for acupuncture's effect on prostatitis.  One pilot study examines acupuncture with electric stimulation on the quality of life of men with chronic prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome.  The treatments were given twice a week for 6 weeks.  The participants had an overall improvement in their quality of life, decrease in urinary difficulties, and an increase in urinary function.  Another study of chronic pelvic pain syndrome tracked the effect of needling only one point located on the sacrum.   The treatment was performed once every week for 4 weeks, and then once a month.  After the 5th treatment, the participants showed a reduction of pain and improvement in quality of life.  In addition, the ultrasonography showed intravenous congestion decreased from the acupuncture.  These studies support the use of acupuncture as a safe and effective complement to standard care.      

References:

Chen R,  Nickel JC. Acupuncture Ameliorates Symptoms in Men with Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. Urology. 2003 Jun;(61)6: 1156-1159.

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.


About Joseph Alban MS, L.Ac
Joseph Alban is a New York State licensed acupuncturist and diplomate in Oriental Medicine, and completed his hospital residency in the Hunan province of China.  There, he received advanced training in the treatment of urological and sexual dysfunction, pain, skin diseases, digestive diseases, and women's health.  He currently runs Alban Acupuncture and Herbs, an acupuncture and Oriental Medicine practice in New York City.  

For more information, please call 917.887.4946, e-mail joseph@albanacupuncture.com,  or go to www.AlbanAcupuncture.com.