Urinary incontinence affects around 3.5 million people of all ages in the UK. For many, urinary incontinence severely restricts their daily routine activities and damages their quality of life and self-esteem. It can be due to several problems, the most common being urge incontinence (the inability to control the sudden urge to urinate) and stress incontinence (the involuntary leakage of urine that occurs during physical activity).
Acupuncture can be used to treat bladder urinary incontinence and IBS by targeting certain points in these areas.
How acupuncture can help
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Animal studies have shown that acupuncture treatment may specifically be of benefit in people with urinary incontinence by:
- decreasing the expression of c-Fos in the brain. Induction of stress urinary incontinence in rats has been shown to increase expression of c-Fos (Chung 2008).
- controlling nitrergic neurotransmitters in order to increase nitric oxide levels in bladder tissue, thus relaxing smooth muscle and allowing increased bladder capacity (Chen 2006).
Also a research study in 2009 indicated the use of manual acupuncture to specific points in the lower abdomen; spine and leg have beneficial effects on neuro modulation of pain and bowel control especially on rectal function and anal sphincter control for up to 3 months following acupuncture treatment.
When applied to spinally injured patients suffering with urge and stress incontinence, acupuncture reduced reflex bladder activity, providing a scientific foundation to clinical treatment and point selection for the treatment of urinary urge and stress incontinence.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders in Western society, affecting around 15% of the population, especially young adults. The cause(s) of irritable bowel syndrome and effective treatment(s) have remained elusive and many patients fail to find adequate relief from conventional therapies. It is claimed that acupuncture is effective for a majority of patients with IBS, but there is mixed data to support this.
About the British Acupuncture Council
With over 3000 members, the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) is the UK’s largest professional body for traditional acupuncturists. Membership of the BAcC guarantees excellence in training, safe practice and professional conduct. To find a qualified traditional acupuncturist, contact the BAcC on 020 8735 0400 or visit www.acupuncture.org.uk
If you suffer for incontinence; here at Incontinence UK we stock a range of incontinence products from the leading brands available on our website including washable pants and pads, swimwear, bed and chair products and incontinence accessories.
Incontinence UK Team