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Acupuncture For Prostatitis

If you are experiencing pain and other symptoms of prostatitis, perhaps you are wondering why you would subject yourself to being stuck with needles. However, study after study has shown that acupuncture for prostatitis is an effective (and, yes, nearly painless) way to manage this common prostate disorder.

What Is Prostatitis?

Prostatitis is a general term for inflammation of the prostate gland. Estimates of how many men experience prostatitis vary, but autopsy studies have placed the prevalence at 64 to 86 percent. [1] Of the four types of prostatitis (acute bacterial, chronic bacterial, chronic nonbacterial prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS), and inflammatory prostatitis), CP/CPPS, by far the most common (90 percent to 95 percent of cases), [2] is also the one that responds to acupuncture.

CP/CPPS can last for weeks or longer; and it can recur again and again — each time subjecting men to symptoms such as painful ejaculation, lower back pain, urinary frequency, difficulty starting urination, burning with urination, pain at the shaft or tip of the penis and testicular pain.

Why Acupuncture For Prostatitis?

Few treatments are available for CP/CPPS; and for men who want an effective alternative to drugs and their side effects, acupuncture may be a logical choice. Here are the results of a few studies to set your mind at ease:

In a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, the authors compared the use of acupuncture versus sham acupuncture for men who had chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Eighty-nine men were randomly assigned to receive either actual or sham acupuncture twice weekly for 10 weeks, with each session lasting 30 minutes. At the end of the study, 32 (73 percent) of the 44 men who had actual acupuncture had a positive response (based on their responses to the National Institutes of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index [NIH/CPSI]), compared with 21 (47 percent) of the 45 men in the sham group. In addition, 14 (32 percent) of the men in the acupuncture group still had a positive response 24 weeks after completing treatment, compared with only six (13 percent) in the sham group. [3]

An earlier study conducted in Canada set out to determine whether acupuncture could improve problems with urination, pain and the quality of life in men with CP/CPPS. The 12 men in the study had not responded to standard therapies, such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs or alpha-blockers. Acupuncture treatment consisted of twice weekly sessions for six weeks, and at each session the men were treated at 30 acupuncture points. Based on NIH/CPSI scores, the men experienced a significant improvement in pain, urinary symptoms and quality of life after an average of 33 weeks of follow-up. The authors concluded that “acupuncture appears to be a safe, effective, and durable treatment in improving symptoms in, and the quality of life of, men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome refractory to treatment.” [4]

Several reviews of the effectiveness of acupuncture for CP/CPPS have been done, and one of the most recent ones (August 2011) noted there is “increasing evidence that acupuncture could be a safe and effective treatment in managing CP/CPPS.” The reviewers explained that their evaluation of recent clinical research of acupuncture for CP/CPPS “could encourage health care providers and urologists to apply acupuncture for managing pains of CP/CPPS with standard treatment.” [5] Acupuncture And Other Treatments

Acupuncture can be used along with other management approaches for CP/CPPS, including medications but especially natural and alternative treatments. Some of the natural treatments that may be helpful include a healthy diet, biofeedback, stress management techniques, regular exercise, sitz baths, avoiding alcohol and the use of selected natural supplements, among others. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider before you start acupuncture for prostatitis.
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