I treat urinary pain every day in my clinic. Why is it so common? Because it can be very stubborn and also very hard to treat.
Although much more common in women, in clinic, I see a balanced split of 50/50 men and women when it comes to chronic urinary irritation, interstitial cystitis, pelvic pain and generalised bladder discomfort. Most UTI’s (urinary tract infections) will clear up within a week with ‘Ural’ or antibiotics, or even just on their own with some cranberry juice. However, for some, it just won’t go away, or keeps coming back.
The patients I see, have often had an irritated urinary tract for 3-24 months when they come to see me. They’ve tried everything, seen multiple specialists, and even been on antibiotics for 12 months, with no bacterial culture in their urine. And unfortunately, this is usually a sign that their doctor has run out of ideas for them. Not necessarily the doctors fault, it’s just that they don’t have anything further to offer.
What Chinese medicine offers is a completely different approach and treatment. Basically, your body has somehow drifted from health and equilibrium, and there is a pain signal going to your brain that something is wrong down there. Now it could be your urethra, ureter, kidneys, bladder or penis/vagina. Or the irritation may just be very generalised and you’re not sure. Then it might be bacterial or non-bacterial, and there may be inflammation of tissue. The pain quality could be dull, sharp, stabbing, burning or like many say ‘like and inflated balloon’ in the bladder. These are just simply locations and qualities. The real information for us is in the detail of how your body is functioning overall. Let me give you some examples;
Patient #1. 35yo female, persistent bladder discomfort for 12 months, diagnosis; interstitial cystitis ‘most likely’. Has tried 3 courses of antibiotics, and has seen 2 specialists. No results. Let’s look at the information I need: Urination is frequent, in small amounts and not burning. There is pressure in the bladder area that is ok with pressure. Urination is pale yellow, not smelly or dark. Patient is very exhausted, has loose stools, low appetite and no general thirst. Her Chinese medical wrist pulse examination shows a slow, slippery, weak and deep pulse. Let me explain my findings so far. The patient is ‘deficient’ overall, exhausted, there are no signs of fever or heat. There is most likely some retention of urine in the bladder, which is just enough to irritate pressure sensors in the lining of the bladder that are already hypersensitive. The patient has loose stools and no thirst, telling me that there is a fluid metabolism issue in the body that is systemic, which is of a cold nature. My treatment approach would be to strengthen the body with acupuncture and herbal medicine. Acupuncture points would be placed on the body around the abdomen, arms and lower legs. The expected time frame of treatment would be easing within 2-3 weeks, and possibly 80% reduction in irritation in 1-3 months approximately. This would be one treatment per week.
Patient #2. 45 yo male. Pain and burning in the penis, with dark, frequent urine that is occasionally cloudy. There is also deep burning in the bladder and pain in the perineum, making it difficult to sit down at times. Western diagnosis; chronic pelvic pain syndrome/non-bacterial prostatitis, with chronic non-bacterial UTI. Very different patient to #1. This patient has energy, however there is burning and dark urine, indicating heat. The bladder area is worse with pressure as is the perineum. The stool is dry and constipated and hard to pass, and thirst is frequent. In this case we would approach almost in the opposite way to patient #1. There is ‘excess’ not ‘deficiency’ so we need to drain and cool. The body is trying to exit this heat and inflammation via that urine and stool, so not only do we need to cool the urinary system and reduce inflammation. We need to move the stool to improve heat clearance and reduce discomfort of the pressure on the prostate and bladder. Again, acupuncture points are selected on the arms and legs and abdomen, however in different locations to the previous patient.
The foundation of what we do as Chinese medicine doctors, is to treat the person as a whole. We ask many questions because chronic disease becomes complicated. Basically the body is pretty good at fixing itself 95% of the time. Problems that hang around for more than a few months already tell us that your body was getting run down and heading in a certain direction before hand. Our job is to work back and find where the natural healing abilities of the body got shifted or ‘stuck’. Then we apply acupuncture and herbal medicine to get back to health.
Please feel free to give us a call or email. I’d be happy to answer your questions. Personally, I have over 17 years treating urinary issues in men and women, and am absolutely passionate about helping people regain their lives through this amazing 3000 year old system.