By Riva Preil
Pelvic Pain Disorders consist of a wide range of problems that affect multiple facets of a person’s quality of life. Since acupuncture works on many levels simultaneously, many of these problems can be addressed in a single session.
From a symptomatic point of view, many of the problems that manifest as pelvic floor dysfunction are common ailments that are regularly treated by acupuncture. Problems such as incontinence, pelvic pain, IBS, vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis, genital pain, urinary or bowel burning, frequency or retention, constipation, and diarrhea are routine ailments treated by acupuncturists.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction has an integral relationship with the structure of the musculoskeletal system. In some patients, problems in the musculoskeletal system can be the underlying origin of their complaint. Tight or weak muscles and/or structural misalignments create imbalances in muscle tone which then lead to further postural asymmetries. Trigger points in the abdomen, iliopsoas and external oblique muscles cause vaginal, labial and groin pain as well as constipation. Tightness of the quadratus lumborum can cause internal pelvic pain, pain with intercourse, pain in the perineum, testicular and genital pain and well as cause constipation or diarrhea. Hamstring tightness can create pain in the obturator internus. Tight adductors refer pain to the groin, and piriformis and gluteal muscle tightness can compress the pudendal nerve. When the trigger point is “dry needled” by acupuncture, this mechanically disrupts the integrity of the dysfunctional endplates within the trigger area, and results in mechanical and physiological resolution of the trigger points.
Furthermore, according to the traditional Chinese meridian theory, the external and internal genitals are traversed by a number of channels: the Liver or Foot Jueyin channel, the Spleen or Foot Taiyin channel, and the Kidney or Foot Shaoyin channel. Thus both internal and external genital pain can be accessed from reflex points along these channels. Points along the shin, at the ankle and on the medial knee can be used to decrease both genital pain and pain in the perineum.
A treatment regime consisting of regular acupuncture treatments in combination with Physical Therapy is the ideal approach for chronic pelvic floor dysfunction.
Adapted from material by Paula Haberman, PT, L.Ac