Rationale of Acupuncture Treatment for Overactive Bladder
Acupuncture has been used to treat urological conditions for thousands of years, particularly in East Asian countries.
In the West, the usage of acupuncture has greatly increased over the last 40 years. In the majority of cases, acupuncture has been used as an alternative or complementary treatment.
In recent years, however, acupuncture has also been used by urologists as a primary treatment for overactive bladder. Not many people, including general healthcare practitioners, are aware of this fact. Even patients who are receiving the treatment may not know that they are receiving acupuncture. This is because most of the time the therapy is not referred to as acupuncture; instead, it is introduced in different terms, such as “percutaneous posterior tibial nerve stimulation” or “Stoller afferent nerve stimulation,” which is one of the neuromodulation techniques.
Types of Neuromodulation Techniques
A neuromodulation technique is a procedure that can modulate the neural functioning of the urinary bladder in an attempt to positively influence urinary control.
One of the earliest neuromodulation studies was conducted nearly 50 years ago. Since then, a variety of methods for electrically stimulating the bladder, sacral roots, and pudendal nerves has emerged, with varying success. Most of these treatments have failed to gain widespread acceptance due to poor results, technical problems, high costs, or low patient compliance due to the discomfort of treatment procedures.[3, 4] For example, a neuromodulation therapy called sacral neuromodulation (SNM or InterStim therapy) involves the surgical implantation of an electrostimulator adjacent to the sacral or the pudendal nerves, bladder wall, or urethra. Another form of neuromodulation therapy called anogenital electrical stimulation involves no surgical procedure; however, the method requires the insertion of plugs equipped with electrodes into the anal canal or vagina. Then the highest needed intensity of stimulation is applied in order to obtain sufficient therapeutic benefit.
Percutaneous posterior tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS, also referred as Stoller afferent nerve stimulation) is considered one of the most promising methods of neuromodulation for the treatment of overactive bladder.
Next Page Overactive Bladder (3) – History of Percutaneous Posterior Tibial Nerve Stimulation and Its Relation to Acupuncture