Can Acupuncture Help Manage Prostatitis?

Chronic prostatitis is a relatively frequent ailment. It has a lifetime prevalence rate of 1.8% to 8.2%. 

According to experts, chronic pelvic pain syndrome accounts for over 90% of chronic prostatitis cases. 

The pain can last at least three months, which can be a problem to deal with. 

The bothersome pelvic pain symptoms can trigger discomfort in the lower urinary tract and the area between the anus and genitals. 

The question is, can acupuncture treatment deal with pelvic pain? We decided to dig a little deeper and see what research has to say. 

This is a detailed guideline of the effects of acupuncture therapy. 

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The Basics of Prostatitis 

Roughly 10-15% of American men develop chronic prostatitis. This condition is characterized by the swelling or inflammation of the prostate gland. 

Those affected tend to experience a lot of pain in the pelvic region and problems with the urinary tract. 

Prostatitis is broken into different syndromes. These include:

The symptoms of chronic prostatitis are relatively easy to recognize. The condition makes it difficult to urinate. It triggers pain in the genitals, pelvis, and groin. 

But, sometimes, its symptoms can resemble the flu. So, it’s a good idea to consult with a health care expert. 

Depending on what’s causing the urinary symptom, prostatitis could occur suddenly or overtime. Benign prostatic hyperplasia can cause the body to develop an enlarged prostate. 

The issue becomes more prevalent with age. In fact, older patients are more likely to develop chronic prostatitis than younger men. 

The mainstays of treatment are painkillers and antibiotics packed with anti-inflammatory properties. Unfortunately, this type of treatment is often not enough to curb the symptoms of chronic pelvic pain and can lead to adverse side effects. 

That’s why a lot of people are looking into alternative therapies, such as acupuncture. 

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture enjoys growing interest among the general population. Over 2 million Americans book acupuncture sessions for a bunch of health problems.

Data shows that there are around 9 to 12 million acupuncture sessions performed on a yearly basis. 

Acupuncture is a complementary medicine, which is a key component in traditional Chinese medicine. It inserts fine needles at distinct points of the human body known as meridians (lines of energy). 

This traditional Chinese medicine is a renowned treatment. It is useful for many mental and physical conditions. 

In sham acupuncture, experts don’t insert the needles too deep. Instead, they use a unique technique to control pain and curb uncomfortable symptoms. 

According to Harvard Health, standard acupuncture “rewires” the brain into creating lasting improvements. While sham acupuncture taps into the placebo circuitry of the central nervous system. 

Therefore, creating temporary but practical pain relief. That’s why it is often recommended to patients with carpal tunnel syndrome or other types of chronic pain. 

Controlled trials show that standard or sham acupuncture are effective treatments for managing the symptoms of hay fever, allergic rhinitis, depression, headaches, pain, sprains, etc. 

Can Acupuncture Help With Prostatitis?

Acupuncture is a promising treatment for alleviating the symptoms of chronic pelvic pain syndrome or chronic prostatitis. 

A study shows that this condition, which impacts less than 15% of the adult male population, requires multiple sessions to get the urinary tract back on track. 

The same study explains that acupuncture is much better than sham acupuncture at curbing pelvic pain symptoms. It also boosts the quality of life.

As opposed to sham acupuncture, standard acupuncture may be similar to medicine. Mainly Ibuprofen and Tamsulosin. Yet, both sham acupuncture and standard acupuncture rarely cause any side effects. 

How It Works

In traditional Chinese medicine, the primary causes of chronic pelvic pain are believed to be the depression of seven emotions and static blood. Sham therapy uses naturally occurring emotions to restore the flow of Qi and improve circulation. 

This form of treatment has long been used for relieving pain, a study shows. Mainly because it is safe, affordable, and minimally invasive. 

After inserting the fine needle into an acupuncture point, the treatment releases endorphins. These are natural pain busters capable of improving the mood. 

Every needle creates a small injury to the insertion spot. Although it doesn’t cause pain, it can trigger some discomfort. This insertion is enough to signal the body to respond, experts explain. 

The stimulation promotes circulation, rejuvenation, and pain modulation. With regular treatment sessions, people can boost their immune system and ease chronic pelvic pain. 

Acupuncture for Prostatitis – What Does The Research Say?

There are numerous options to keep chronic prostatitis in check. A recent randomized controlled trial (RCT) suggests that acupuncture can reduce the pain from chronic pelvic pain syndrome. 

It can also help improve quality of life and curb inflammation. These effects make acupuncture for prostatitis a viable therapeutic alternative. 

According to the clinical trial, 100 patients with chronic prostatitis received acupuncture. The treatment group was divided into two segments, those who obtained either 7 acupoints bilaterally or via sham acupuncture. 

The final results showed that both sham participants and acupuncture patients experienced a drastic decrease in chronic pain. Acupuncture for prostatitis helped alleviate the symptoms in men with chronic pelvic pain syndrome. 

A pilot study published in the Urology Journal evaluated whether acupuncture has what it takes to improve the pain with chronic pelvic pain syndrome. 12 men took at least 6 weeks of acupuncture treatment. 

A drastic decrease in symptoms helped alleviate the pain, urinary tract complications, and quality of life. Acupuncture appeared to be effective, durable, and safe at managing the symptoms of chronic prostatitis. But, more research is necessary to confirm these prostatitis symptom findings. 

Another study on the prostate showed similar results. Experts believe that acupuncture beats drugs for prostatitis symptom control. 

This ancient Chinese treatment can outperform conventional medicine for chronic prostatitis. 

Based on a trial done in clinical practice, the acupuncture group experienced an 87.5% total effective rate. While the treatment group that used conventional medicine enjoyed a 62.5% total effective rate. 

The acupuncture group developed noteworthy prostatitis symptom relief. Compared to the drug treatment group, the acupuncture group better managed their pain symptoms. 

Although this is a small-scale study, it still makes acupuncture a viable treatment option. Nevertheless, a bigger systematic review is necessary to evaluate the full extent of this treatment. 

Other Benefits of Acupuncture For Men 

When performed by an expert practitioner, both typical and sham acupuncture can offer many benefits. While men, too, enjoy better sleep, pain, and mood management, some additional benefits can drastically benefit the male body. These include:

Improved sexual functioning and vitality 

Sexual dysfunction is a common problem for an older male patient. That’s where manual acupuncture comes into play. 

The treatment can boost sexual stamina and desire. It can also amplify sperm quality, motility, and quantity. 

Better recovery and athletic performance 

Based on a systematic review, pelvic pain is not the only problem men have to deal with. Inflammation, poor flexibility, and slow tissue repair are equally draining. 

Sham acupuncture is here to speed up post-exercise rejuvenation, the systematic review shows. It can also lessen muscle soreness and heart rate. 

Enhanced control in seasonal allergies 

A 2013 study indicates that in 2 months of treatment, acupuncture helped manage pollen allergies. This was recorded in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis. It reduced the need for medication, which proved to be more than enough to curb the symptoms. 

Increased mindfulness 

In today’s society, people need to take a break. To sit down and relax. A great way to take a breather and decrease stress is with acupuncture treatment. 

The problem is, people are always busy plowing through their day-to-day activities. Luckily, acupuncture takes less than half an hour. 

But, this is enough to provide stillness and a sense of calm. Patients get to address their emotional and physical unrest. They also cultivate mindfulness, a study shows. 

Facilitated long-term symptomatic relief 

While drugs offer quick relief, they can create dependence. Plus, they expose the body to possible side effects, which can profoundly impact overall health. That’s especially evident with treatments for prostate enlargement. 

People who treat their bacterial prostatitis with conventional medicine can experience diarrhea as well as vomiting and other symptoms. 

Acupuncture takes good care of the prostate and doesn’t worsen your prostate health. It’s beneficial for chronic pelvic pain syndrome and its effects are persistent over time. 

What About Risks and Side Effects?

This alternative treatment doesn’t come without drawbacks. But, the adverse event rate is much lower. 

If you do want to try this treatment, make sure to book an appointment with an experienced practitioner. Consult with a nurse, doctor, or physiotherapist to find an accredited expert in your local area. 

When done by a qualified practitioner, the treatment is safe. But, sometimes, people can develop temporary and mild adverse reactions. These include:

  • Drowsiness

  • Pain in the insertion area

  • Bruising or bleeding on the punctured spot

  • Worse symptoms of a pre-existing condition

Patients with hemophilia or any other bleeding disorder are advised to talk to a doctor before getting treatment. Also, if you are allergic to metal, stay away from this alternative treatment. That’s because the needles are made of metal, which can trigger an allergic reaction. 

Although the practice is safe during pregnancy, it’s a good idea to let the practitioner know that you are pregnant before you start. 

Conclusion

Many patients with chronic pelvic pain are looking for natural treatment alternatives. That’s why acupuncture for pelvic pain quickly skyrocketed in terms of popularity. 

From the available research, this treatment may indeed be beneficial for chronic pelvic pain. It provides relief, it’s cheap and relatively safe to use. 

But, just like any other natural alternative, this one lacks fundamental research on more pelvic pain cases. With extra research on chronic pelvic pain, we can know for sure whether this treatment can prove useful. 

So far, acupuncture is favored among pelvic pain patients. It can offer some relief for chronic pelvic pain, making it a go-to choice for many. If you too suffer from chronic pelvic pain, consult with a specialist first. 

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Sources

  1. Qin Z, Wu J, Zhou J, Liu Z. Systematic Review of Acupuncture for Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4839929/
  2. Chen, Richard and J Curtis Nickel, Acupuncture ameliorates symptoms in men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome, Adult Urology, 2003. https://www.goldjournal.net/article/S0090-4295(03)00141-9/fulltext

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