Loyola University Health System will open an acupuncture clinic for men and women with pelvic health disorders this fall. The clinic will use acupuncture to treat patients with common conditions such as pelvic pain, nausea from pelvic surgery, interstitial cystitis, painful bladder syndrome, postoperative pain, prostatitis and overactive bladder.
"These conditions place a significant burden on our health-care system and the economy due to the prevalence and the fact that many patients don't respond to traditional treatments," said Larissa Bresler, MD, a medical acupuncture doctor, Loyola University Health System, and an assistant professor of Urology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "The goal of the clinic will be to offer patients another tool to help alleviate their symptoms without the side effects of medication."
Acupuncture has been used as a healing tool for more than 2,000 years. Early healers used bamboo shoots to perform acupuncture. Today acupuncturists use fine needles to stimulate various acupressure points in the body to alleviate pain and to treat various conditions.
Acupuncture is based on the traditional Chinese teaching that energy flows through the body along channels called meridians. Illness occurs when energy is blocked or disrupted. The insertion of needles into designated points improves the flow of energy and releases feel-good hormones, beneficial chemicals and immune system cells to reduce inflammation, aid healing and promote pain relief.
Modern medical acupuncture doctors like Dr. Bresler combine the western biomedical understanding of disease with eastern approaches to help healing.
Researchers in Loyola's acupuncture clinic are enrolling women ages 21-65 in a study to evaluate acupuncture for interstitial cystitis, a form of chronic pelvic pain. This study also will determine if acupuncture alters the bacteria in the bladder, which may play a role in this disease.
Interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome, affects nearly 7.9 million women in the U.S. It is a complex condition that significantly reduces a person's quality of life. More than 80 percent of patients with this condition seek complementary and alternative medical treatment due to the growing evidence to support acupuncture for various types of pain.
"Treatments for women with interstitial cystitis have limited utility and problematic side effects, yet little research has been done on complementary and alternative medicine approaches to manage this condition," Dr. Bresler said. "This study will provide us with evidence about the role of acupuncture in managing women with this painful condition."
Loyola University Health System