In my early twenties I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis. At the time of my diagnosis, I had spent countless hours in the Emergency Room because of debilitating pain. I had been on painkillers, anti-anxiety medication, antihistamines, and numerous rounds of antibiotics to no avail. Out of sheer desperation I decided to try acupuncture. After just a few sessions I was experiencing fewer flare ups and after a few months of treatments I felt like a new person. Over a decade has passed and I now live virtually pain free.
Interstitial Cystitis is a condition of chronic pain, characterized by urinary urgency, frequency and burning. Initially sufferers may think they have a urinary tract infection and will, more often than not, be treated accordingly. Because IC mimics so many other diseases of the bladder, getting a diagnosis may be difficult.
Individuals with interstitial cystitis experience flare ups and then periods of remission. The length of each of these vary from patient to patient. For some, flares may occur daily with little relief. For others, flares may occur during times of stress or dehydration. Even during periods of remission some may still feel low levels of discomfort and pain. The course of interstitial cystitis is unique to each patient and so it is important to treat according to the constitution of the patient.
Interstitial cystitis can be an excruciating and debilitating disease. Many go undiagnosed for years and instead end up taking unnecessary antibiotics, which can lead to digestive issues and yeast infections. Diagnosis is even more difficult with men as this is often thought of as a woman’s disease. For those with interstitial cystitis it is of utmost importance to find a trusted urologist. There are many diseases that can lead to urinary difficulties, some relatively harmless, and others that are far more serious. Therefore receiving a correct diagnosis is essential before beginning treatment.
Once a diagnosis is made, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be used to help mitigate flares. Often a patient will receive treatment during the flare, but it is equally important to receive treatment during periods of remission as well. Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy not only treat the symptoms of interstitial cystitis, but can also help with other symptoms that may occur because of the disease, such as depression and fatigue.
As someone who suffered from interstitial cystitis for many years, I can personally attest to the fact that acupuncture works wonders! Today, I rarely have flares and experience almost no pain during my periods of remission. When I do occasionally have a flare, I see my acupuncturist and she will treat me to lessen the symptoms. I still receive acupuncture weekly to manage my interstitial cystitis and I make sure to also visit my urologist regularly. The integration of western knowledge with eastern treatments keep me feeling healthy and pain free!
For more information visit the Interstitial Cystitis Association.