Presentation Authors: Larissa Bresler*, Lauren Westbay, Cara Joyce, Mary Tulke, Colleen Fitzgerald, Maywood, IL
Introduction: Current treatments for painful bladder syndrome (PBS) have limited success and problematic side effects leading patients to seek complementary-alternative medicine approaches. This study was designed to determine the safety, tolerability, and effectiveness of acupuncture in reducing pain in women with PBS.
Methods: This prospective randomized single blinded study compared electro-acupuncture (EA) to minimal acupuncture (MA) after 6 weekly sessions (end of treatment, EOT) and at 12 weeks, after 6 weeks of no treatment, in women with > 6 months of symptoms. One urologist double boarded in medical acupuncture performed the acupuncture and exam. The Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form was used to assess pain (worst pain, average pain, and pain severity) and quality of life (pain interference), with the primary outcome being worst pain. Pelvic exam was performed to assess pelvic floor muscle tenderness. Linear mixed-effects models were used to estimate mean and standard error of pain scores at baseline, EOT, and at 12 weeks.
Results: 21 patients were randomized to EA (n=11) or MA (n=10). There were no reported adverse events. Both groups showed significant improvement in worst pain at the EOT with a decrease of -2.91Â±0.59 (p=0.007) and -2.09Â±0.68 (p < 0.001) for EA and MA respectively with no difference between groups (p=0.37). Results were similar at 12 weeks. Average pain and pain severity also showed improvement for both groups at the EOT with no difference between groups (p>0.05), but only the EA group maintained improvement at 12 weeks. The EA group had greater improvement in pain interference at the EOT, -3.28Â±0.51 versus -1.67Â±0.58 (p= 0.049). The within group change was still significant for the EA group at 12 weeks (-2.46Â±0.64, p=0.002), between group difference was not maintained (p=0.13). Only the EA group showed significant decrease in levator ani tenderness (p < 0.05) at the EOT.
Conclusions: EA showed greater improvement in pain interference, pelvic floor muscle tenderness, with continuing effects on pain scores at 12 weeks compared to MA. This study demonstrates that patients tolerate and improve with weekly acupuncture treatment sessions and that EA specifically may improve quality of life for women with PBS.
Source of Funding: Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA)