Lawrence P. Frank
Acupuncture is an important mainstay of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Empirically derived by thousands of years of observation, Chinese medical doctors recorded their treatments almost 2000 years ago in the then modern text, "Yellow Emperor's Book of Internal Medicine." Although the physiologic reasoning may seem bizarre to modern allopathic physicians, accepting and understanding the basic tenets does then provide a logical choice of therapy that has withstood the test of time,longer than any current Western therapeutics. Every patient, both responsive and unresponsive to conventional medical therapy, should be given the choice of undergoing a course of acupuncture.
Pelvic floor dysfunction and, in particular, pelvic pain, represents as much a dilemma for TCM acupuncture as it does for Western medicine. Precise diagnoses are difficult to differentiate. Indeed, every medical condition mentioned in this book can cause pelvic dysfunction in male and females. Acupuncture does have a role in the treatment of these patients. Fortunately, the TCM acupuncture approach is a much broader diagnostic system and therefore the available treatments will work theoretically for most conditions in the general pelvic region. Symptoms are just as important as a diagnosis, as is the patient's overall health and well-being to form a holistic picture of the disease or distress.
Modern randomized clinical trial studies have been done investigating acupuncture for a variety of pelvic dysfunctions. However, there is still only a limited number of such studies. The largest number of trials concern the syndrome of interstitial cystitis.1-6 Then, there are generalized pelvic pain,7,8 pelvic myofascial trigger points,9,10 vulvody-nia,11 and review articles of pelvic pain listing acupuncture as a treatment modality.12-14
Regarding interstitial cystitis, significant reductions in frequency and incontinence have been demonstrated using acupuncture.1 Others have found a significant increase in cystometric capacity and symptomatic improvement in frequency, urgency, and dysuria.6
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