Female Pelvic Pain: Acupuncture can help to eliminate or significantly reduce the pain so that can you get on with your life.
Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) is one of the most common pain conditions affecting women and can have a significant impact on quality of life. Chronic pelvic pain is a multi-system disorder when pain symptoms can manifest in many different ways for each women. There are also many root causes to pelvic pain ranging anywhere from trauma, muscle strain, emotional stress, and nutritional deficiencies. The pain in the pelvis can be defined as truly unique to each individual woman in the root cause and manifestation of it.
How Acupuncture Helps to Relieve Female Pelvic Pain?
Acupuncture provides a holistic approach to healing and are effective treatment to relieve the pain. The fundamental concept of acupuncture is the balanced flow of life energy, Qi through the body. The Qi flows in well-defined vessels - meridians, which already are identified and acknowledged by modern scientist research. When the flow of Qi is blocked by disease or injury, the symptoms of illness – pain, swellings, and tenderness manifest themselves. Acupuncture points are well- demarcated areas along the meridians, which “unblocks” the flow of Qi with the insertion of needle.
One major hypothesis from Western researches is that acupuncture works through neurohormonal pathways: the needle in the body stimulates the nerves that send signals to the brain, and the brain releases neural hormones such as beta-Endorphins. By doing that, the patient may feel euphoric, or happy, and this increases the pain threshold and they feel less pain.
The needles inserted locally, in pelvic area improve local blood flow and invigorate Qi/energy flow. This local needle insertion causes a local release of histamine and endorphins and facilitates local pain gate effects.
Needles inserted more distally, on the legs and arms stimulate descending pain inhibition, as well as the production of endorphins and β-cortisol (anti-inflammatory).
What types of Pelvic pain can be eliminated with Acupuncture?
Emotional stress can lead to dysfunction in the autonomic nerves system resulting in smooth muscle spasm and compression of the ovarian and uterine veins, with an associated increase in the amount of substance P found at the endothelium of pelvic veins, which is thought to increase vascular tone and pain. Clinically, patients will demonstrate symptoms of:
• Dysmenorrhoea • Dyspareunia • Menorrhagia • Bilateral pelvic pain • Exacerbation of symptoms at menstruation • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) • Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
• Iritable bowel syndrome (IBS) pain is intermittent, with cramping in the left lower quadrant as well as flatulence, bloating and alternating diarrhoea and constipation. Pain is often improved after a bowel movement and is typically worse after eating, during stress and anxiety, and during the premenstrual and menstrual phases of the cycle.
• Diverticular disease results in severe acute left quadrant pain with associated fever and tenderness.
•Inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis manifests with acute pains and symptoms such as fever, vomiting and anorexia.
Chronic pain of urological origin is associated with bladder-related symptoms of urgency, frequency, hesitancy, incontinence, nocturia, dyspareunia and urinary tract problems such as: • Interstitial Cystitis (IC) • Neurogenic Bladder Pain • Painful Bladder Syndrome (PPS) • Prolapse of Uterus or Bladder
Myofascial pain syndrome
• It occurs as a result of muscle injury, overuse, repetitive strain or somatic influences on the sympathetic nervous system. Myofascial pain is generally described as dull, aching and poorly localised.
• It may be affected by posture, stress and the menstrual cycle.
• It is generally eased with rest, warmth and the reduction of postural and emotional stress.
•Any fascia or muscle innervated by the twelfth thoracic to the fourth lumbar spinal segments can refer pain to the lower abdomen, especially the iliopsoas, quadratus lumborum, and piriformis muscles.
• Any fascia or muscle innervated by the tenth thoracic to the fourth sacral segments can refer pain to the reproductive organs, abdominal wall, lower back, thighs and pelvic floor
- Endometriosis • Menstrual Pain • Uterine Fibroids • Ovarian and Dermoid Cysts • Childbirth Trauma/Anxiety • C-Section scar Adhesions • Adenomyosis • Vaginismus
Studies of women with Chronic Pelvic Pain have documented a high incidence of psychological disturbance and sexual abuse. The role of unknown neurophysiological mechanisms within the enteric nervous system, spinal cord and supraspinal areas cannot be overestimated. Chronic pelvic pain without (or even with) inflammatory, mechanical or visceral pathology is likely to involve all levels of the Central Nervous system. In such cases the therapeutic approach should be directed at the physical, emotional and systemic levels.
How Long Does It Take To Feel Relief?
It depends on the severity of the condition. Some women feel instant relief but the pain might come back to some degree or at the same level it once was until one or two full courses of acupuncture treatments are completed. Recovery also depends on how often the patient can commit to treatments, self-care and levels of physical and emotional stress in life.
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Rankin AJ (2002) Chronic Pelvic Pain In: Textbook of Pain 4th Ed, Churchill Livingstone.
Stones RW, Loesch A, Beard RW et al (1995) Substance P: endothelial localization and pharmacology in the human ovarian vein. Obstetrics and gynaecology 85(2): 273-278