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Utilizing Houston Acupuncture Services To Improve Urinary Incontinence
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How Acupuncture can help with Urinary Incontinence

Acupuncture has been used in urinary incontinence and related conditions (like overactive bladder) for centuries among Chinese medicine practitioners. Those practitioners explained acupuncture’s effectiveness as a sign that treatment could improve qi (life energy) flows through the body.

Centuries later, medical studies are showing a promising link between acupuncture treatment and improved incontinence. And although more research studies are needed, western medicine also has ideas as to why acupuncture works in people with urinary incontinence. Specifically, it appears that acupuncture needles may stimulate parts of the urinary system, improving its function.

How Do Acupuncture Treatments Help Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is an extremely common condition, especially among older people, but it’s not considered a normal part of aging. It is especially common in women over 65 years in age – as is overactive bladder – affecting nearly three out of four women at some point. There can be a few reasons behind a patient’s urinary incontinence, but the most common are weakness in the bladder or pelvic floor muscles. Overactive bladder muscles are another primary cause of the condition.

According to early research studies, acupuncture treatment may address these issues and, by extension, urinary incontinence.

During treatment, acupuncture needles are gently inserted into the skin. Once inserted, they may be lightly manipulated to improve effectiveness. Some forms of acupuncture involve passing a weak electrical current through the needles to enhance stimulation.

In each case, the effects are primarily the same – the acupuncture needles stimulate targeted nerve pathways, allowing practitioners to directly treat discrete parts of the body. When used for urinary incontinence, practitioners target acupuncture points known to influence the urinary system.

Though more research is needed here, it appears that acupuncture stimulation may strengthen nerve responses related to urinary control. Specifically, stimulating acupuncture points linked to the sacral, pelvic, or pudendal nerve may achieve the desired effects. Through regular acupuncture treatment, it’s possible to improve the nerve response from these areas and urine retention.

Also, acupuncture treatment used on lumbosacral points may influence the detrusor muscles – the muscles responsible for retaining urine inside the bladder. In this context, acupuncture stimulation may relax the detrusor muscles and prevent spasms that result in urine leakage.

It’s possible that regular acupuncture treatments may reinforce these effects, prolonging their beneficial effects.

What Does the Medical Research Say About Acupuncture and Urinary Incontinence?

A handful of medical studies have demonstrated this positive link, including the following pieces of medical research:

● A 2013 review published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine - This was a small review that first identified 509 potential studies before narrowing down the final number to just four. Each study included a control group - either sham acupuncture or medication. Following the review, the research team determined that more research was needed to confirm acupuncture's efficacy in urinary incontinence but did point out encouraging signs of treatment efficacy. For example, the researchers noted that acupuncture was better than anticholinergic drugs at ensuring bladder compliance. Reductions in urge frequency and severity were also noted among the researchers.

Research into acupuncture and erectile dysfunction shows that treatment can help with both. In particular, acupuncture shows great promise in men suffering from psychological ED. In a 2003 study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research, 70 percent of patients who received ED-specified acupuncture achieved positive results, while those who received alternative acupuncture treatments had much less promising results.

● A 2022 review published in Frontiers in Public Health - This was another small review, one that only included three studies. This research was focused on women with urinary incontinence, with a total of 591 women included in the patient sample. Following the review, the researchers found that, in all three studies, acupuncture treatment significantly improved patient quality of life scores. Further, acupuncture treatment reduced urine leakage better than medication.

● A 2022 review and meta-analysis published in Explore - This systematic review and analysis was larger than the other two - numbering 10 studies in all. The treatment option of choice was electroacupuncture and was used in conjunction with a sham acupuncture control. The research team concluded that acupuncture sessions reduced the number of urge-related accidents and the prevalence of urge-related symptoms.

Acupuncture May Provide Relief for Those Struggling with Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence isn’t a life or health-threatening condition, but it can indicate other medical concerns. It can also cause quality of life and social problems for those suffering with the condition, making it a high priority for treatment. If you are experiencing frustrating bouts of urinary incontinence, acupuncture may be an effective alternative option.

It is important to pick the right physician to provide acupuncture treatment. Partnering with a licensed acupuncturist who is also board certified in western, allopathic medicine is ideal. Western physicians certified to perform acupuncture can provide the best of allopathic and Chinese medicine.

Urinary incontinence may be treated with medicine, exercise, acupuncture and other Chinese medicine therapies, such as herbal remedies. With so many treatment options available to patients, it may be a challenge to identify the best treatment regimen for your urinary incontinence. If your acupuncturist is certified to provide western and Chinese medicine, you will have access to a full range of therapies.

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