Understanding Pelvic Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment with Acupuncture
Pelvic pain is a complex and often debilitating condition that can affect individuals of all ages and genders. It refers to discomfort or pain in the pelvic region, which is the area between the hip bones at the bottom of the spine. Pelvic pain can be acute or chronic and may range from mild to severe, impacting an individual's quality of life.
Causes of Pelvic Pain:
Endometriosis: A condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing inflammation and pain.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): Infection of the female reproductive organs, often caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Infections in the urinary system can cause pelvic discomfort.
Interstitial Cystitis: A chronic condition characterized by bladder inflammation, leading to pelvic pain and urinary urgency.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A common digestive disorder that can cause abdominal pain and affect the pelvic region.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can contribute to pelvic pain.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: Weakness or tension in the muscles of the pelvic floor can lead to pain and discomfort.
Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP): Common during pregnancy, PGP involves pain in the pelvic joints and ligaments.
Reproductive System Issues:
Ovarian Cysts: Fluid-filled sacs that can form on the ovaries and cause pelvic pain.
Fibroids: Noncancerous growths in the uterus that can lead to pelvic pressure and pain.
Symptoms of Pelvic Pain:
Persistent or intermittent pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic region.
Discomfort during sexual activity.
Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea.
Urinary symptoms, including urgency or frequency.
Menstrual irregularities and pain during menstruation.
Acupuncture releases chronic pelvic pain (CPP) regardless causes- research update.
Acupuncture is a globally practiced therapy used for various ailments, particularly in the management of pain. A previous study involving a large sample size of 17,922 patients found that acupuncture intervention provided greater analgesic efficacy compared to sham or no acupuncture intervention for back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headaches. A recent updated analysis with 20,827 patients also demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating nonspecific musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headaches, and shoulder pain.
Acupuncture has also been found to be effective in managing chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS), which is characterized by chronic pain in the pelvic region, often accompanied by ejaculatory and urination pain lasting for at least 3 to 6 months. The benefits of acupuncture for CP/CPPS have been well-established. A paper analyzing data from ten studies involving 329 participants concluded that receiving a greater number of acupuncture sessions was associated with increased symptom relief. After 6 sessions, a decrease in pain was observed, and significant improvement was noted after 18 sessions. This suggests a dose-response relationship between the number of acupuncture sessions and the outcome of CP/CPPS. Prolonged acupuncture sessions were found to be associated with lower NIH-CPSI scores, and it was determined that a minimum of six acupuncture sessions was required to achieve clinical effects.
In a recent review analyzing acupuncture's effectiveness in managing pelvic pain in CPP patients from January 2011 to September 2022, a total of 1455 CPP patients (867 females and 588 males) were included. These patients underwent acupuncture treatment, either as an adjunctive therapy or as monotherapy, for a period ranging from 2 weeks to 6 months. Some trials also assessed pain levels during a follow-up period ranging from 12 weeks to one year.
The findings of this review revealed that acupuncture treatment resulted in lower pain levels compared to control interventions for CPP patients, regardless of whether acupuncture was used as an adjunctive therapy or as the sole treatment. These results suggest that acupuncture alone may have beneficial effects in managing pelvic pain associated with CPP, irrespective of its underlying causes.
ReferencesQin Z et al Ann Transl Med. 2019 Mar;7(6):116. doi: 10.21037/atm.2018.11.45.
Kent Yu-Hsien Lin, et al Healthcare (Basel). 2023 Mar; 11(6): 830.