Acupuncture treatment for Interstitial Cystitis – any evidence?
After my last blog post I received numerous emails from numerous health care practitioners asking on the scientific evidence regarding acupuncture treatment of interstitial cystitis.
Before I present this information, keep in mind that not everything that works can be proven – especially therapies that are 5000 years old.Â The importance of scientific investigation in all forms of medicine cannot be understated – we have made huge advances in medicine through science. However, for a practitioner to just depend on scientific data while working in the “trenches” trying improve our patients health is short sighted.
In the words of arguably the best scientist to ever live, ” Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.”Â – Albert Einstein
A good doctor incorperates 3 things in their approach: science, clinical experience and the therapeutic relationship with the patient.
OK, I am jumping out of my soap box now.
Here’s the existing scientific data on acupuncture and interstitial cystitis (and associated conditions)
( I have taken this from other of my writings on the topic)
Patients with IC/PBS can potentially gain benefit from 10 to 20 sessions of acupuncture (Whitmore, 2002).Â Alraek has been able to show in a study with 61 women that traditional Chinese medical (TCM) diagnosis can be useful in cystitis (Alraek et al. 2000).
In a study of 14 patients, Rapkin and Kames found that 6 to 8 weeks of acupuncture reduced the pain of IC (Rapkin and Kames, 1987).
One reported a case study of a 31-year-old woman whose IC symptoms were reduced with acupuncture to the kidney and bladder meridians (Lyons, 2001).
One Norwegian study of 67 adult women with a history of recurrent lower UTI were randomized into three groups in which one received acupuncture treatment, one had sham acupuncture, and one was given no treatment. A statistically significant 85% in the acupuncture group was free of cystitis during the 6-month observational period, as compared with 58% in the sham group and only 36% in the control group (Aune et al. 1998).
As you can see, the scientific data regarding acupuncture treatment for interstitial cystitis is limited at this time. Good randomized trials with the use of acupuncture are desperately needed for this patient population.
Keep posted as we are developing such studies at our institution at NYU.
Whitmore KE. Complementary and alternative therapies as treatment alternatives for interstitial cystitis. Rev Urol. 2002;4(suppl 1):S28â€“S35.
Alraek T, Aune A, Baerheim A (2000) Traditional Chinese medicine syndromes in women with frequently recurring cystitis: frequencies of syndromes and symptoms. Complement Ther Med 8:260-265
Rapkin AJ, Kames LD. The pain management approach to chronic pelvic pain. J Reprod Med. 1987;32:323â€“3271.
Lyons P. Acupuncture treatment for interstitial cystitis: a case report. Am AcadMed Acupunct. 2001. http://www.medicalacupuncture.org.ezproxy.med.nyu.edu. Published 2001. Accessed November 1, 2007.
Aune A, Alraek T, LiHua H. Acupuncture in the prophylaxis of recurrent lower urinary tract infection in adult women. Scand J Prim Health Care 1998;16:37-39.