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Tuesday, 30 April 2013 14:56

Can acupuncture help stress and urge incontinence?

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Q:  Please could you recommend an acupuncturist who has experience of percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation to treat stress and urge incontinence in women in the Dorset area. I am enquiring for my mother who lives in Weymouth, Dorset.

A: As our factsheet shows  there is some evidence to suggest that urgency of urination can be helped by acupuncture, although there is not yet anywhere near enough evidence to make substantive claims here. If you search the internet there are a number of studies such as this one which offer some hope

 However, we have to remind ourselves sometimes that Chinese medicine has been dealing with problems like this for over 2000 years, and has a very sophisticated process for understanding patients' symptoms against a backdrop of an entirely different conceptual framework. The understanding of the body as a system of energy, 'qi', in flow and the concepts of yin and yang to describe its flow and inter-relationships is very alien to the western ear. However, the rather wider understanding of organs as functional units with effects on body mind and spirit, and the underlying premise that symptoms are alarm bells, not the problem itself, can sometimes offer possibilities for understanding a problem in a far wider context. This will often be corroborated by other problems which a patient suffers and by diagnostic signs which the practitioner sees, and can often lead to a situation where a practitioner can tell the patient about symptoms that they haven't yet mentioned. If the problem is a part of a recognised syndrome or pattern of symptoms a practitioner will be able to give a clear idea of prognosis. Even if it doesn't the attempt to re-establish balance in the system can also have an effect on individual symptoms.

We recommend that you talk to a BAcC member local to you an ask for their advice in a brief face to face consultation whether they think that they can help you. We trust that they will give you an honest assessment, and refer you on to other modalities of treatment if they felt that these offered a better prospect of success.

We think this still reflects our view. There has been no further research of which we are aware, although there is a study which we did not mention on the last occasion from 1995 which shows encouraging results but is small in number and mainly dealing with men.

The factsheet can be found at:

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