TCM and Chronic Pelvic Pain
By: Steve Goodman
Chronic Pelvic Pain occurs in both men and women. In men the problem is usually related to the prostate. In women, it is usually associated with endometriosis, menstrual pain, or other factors related to the reproductory organs. The good news is that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has modalities that have proven to be effective in treating Chronic Pelvic Pain (CPP) in both men and women.
A recently published study of a traditional Western style clinical trial conducted by the Fujian College of TCM in China looked at the effectiveness of three separate TCM protocols for the treatment of Chronic Pelvic Pain, or prostatitus in men. Using the standard National Institutes of Health (NIH) scale to measure symptoms of CPP, specifically, pain, urinary difficulties, and quality of life, the study concluded that all three modalities did more to relieve the symptoms of CPP than the placebo group. Of the three groups receiving an actual treatment, the group treated with a decoction of the Chinese herb, Aike, did the best.
Similar positive results were found in pilot studies that examined the effectiveness of acupuncture on benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), prostatitus, and Chronic Pelvic Pain.
In general, Chronic Pelvic Pain is a condition usually more associated with women than men. Here too, TCM has offered substantial, and verifiable relief. Both acupuncture and herbal medications have been used to successfully treat CPP in women. In women CPP takes on many forms. It can occur monthly with the menstrual cycle, a few times a year, or some women are forced to endure CPP almost every day of their reproductive lives. Often “medical science” can find no cause for CPP. Even when the etiology is known – allopathic medicine offers little in the way of relief other than the use of powerful hormonal drugs and painkillers, or invasive surgeries. Western doctors have even resorted to prescribing antidepressants to treat CPP in women with no apparent physical cause for the pain - claiming the problem is emotionally related.
TCM modalities for CPP in women have proven particularly effective in those cases where traditional medicine cannot find an organic cause. Given that TCM treats CPP as it does all conditions, as a problem stemming from qi stagnation or blockage, in this case the problem most likely lies in the Zang fu organs of the liver, kidneys, and heart. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating women suffering from Chronic Pelvic Pain even when a source of origin such as an infection, inflammation, or adhesions can be found.
Chronic Pelvic Pain, especially in women, is a complex disorder often occurring with no single discernable cause. TCM takes a holistic approach to each patient treating not just the symptom, but taking into consideration everything from diet to emotional states. This makes TCM modalities particularly effective for treating CPP, since the source of the discomfort can be due to any number of internal, or external factors.