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I have Interstitial Cystitis or Painful Bladder Syndrome. Can acupuncture help? ?

I have Interstitial Cystitis or Painful Bladder Syndrome. Can acupuncture help? ?

Yes, acupuncture and Oriental medicine have a lot to offer in terms of treatment for interstitial cystitis (IC) and relief from related discomfort.

What is Interstitial cystitis (IC)?
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a condition that results in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region.  The symptoms vary from case to case and even in the same individual. People may experience mild discomfort, pressure, tenderness, or intense pain in the bladder and pelvic area. Symptoms may include an urgent need to urinate (urgency), a frequent need to urinate (frequency), or a combination of these symptoms. Pain may change in intensity as the bladder fills with urine or as it empties. Women's symptoms often get  worse during menstruation. They may sometimes experience pain with vaginal intercourse.

Because interstitial cystitis varies so much in symptoms and severity, most researchers  believe that it is not one, but several diseases. In recent years, scientists have started to use the term painful bladder syndrome (PBS) to describe cases with painful urinary symptoms that may not meet the strictest definition of IC.   The term IC/PBS includes all cases of  urinary pain that can't be attributed to other causes, such as infection or urinary stones. The term interstitial cystitis, or IC, is used alone when describing cases that meet all of the IC criteria established by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Interstitial Cystitis in Terms of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Symptoms include extreme pain in the pelvic area, frequency, low energy, weakness in the lower back area, and discomfort in the inner thigh area. This is a typical kidney deficiency.

The Function of the Kidney Meridian System

In Oriental medicine, the kidney is a place of storage of the congenital energy known as Qi. Its function is to excrete waste through the urine. The kidney is the original source of energy in the body for growth and function. It is not difficult to understand why IC patients are exhausted. The basic theory is that the kidney and bladder work as a pair in function. The kidney is the controller and the bladder is the executive organ. In Oriental medicine, chronic bladder disorders are caused by Kidney dysfunction.

The Oriental Medicine Explanation of Interstitial Cystitis Symptoms:

  • Pain and burning due to meridian blockage of both the bladder and kidney preventing Qi from flowing through the meridian.

  • Frequency in urination caused by a lack of power in the kidney which causes the bladder to be out of control.

  • Discomfort in the inner thigh area is because this is a pass way of that meridian.

  • Weakness in the lower back is on the location of the blocked meridian.

  • Dizziness and ear ringing is because the ears are the opening of the Kidney meridian.

The Two Classifications of Interstitial Cystitis Syndromes in Oriental Medicine:

  1. Cold IC patients - 70-80% of patients have icy cold hands and feet.  They look pale and don't want to drink a lot of water. They may feel relief after urination. Emotionally, they express more feelings of depression than anxiety. This is a group of kidney Yang energy deficient syndrome patients.

  2. Hot IC patients - About 20% of the patients have warm hands and feet. They are thirsty and drink a lot of water. They may not feel empty or relief after urination. Emotionally they express more feelings of anxiety than depression.  This is a group of kidney Yin energy deficient syndrome patients.  This type of patient seems to have a more sensitive bladder. They may be allergic to many things and even basic nutrients can make them flare up.

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