Overactive bladder & Urinary Incontinence - Medical Acupuncture an effective treatment

runningThere are two main types of incontinence, Sometimes a mixed type can occur.

Stress incontinence:

May be due to pelvic floor weakness, a result of disturbances to the normal function of the pelvic floor muscles and fibrous tissue. This may be due to the presence of trigger points within the muscles, it may also be inherited. Those with stress incontinence are more prone to leaking with coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercises, lifting etc. Treatment options include pelvic floor muscle retraining (with a physiotherapist), electrical stimulation, and medication. In some cases surgery may be required.

Urge incontinence:

Results in the feeling of needing to urinate more frequently and being unable to control the urge. Sometimes the urge results in an increase in visits to the bathroom only and without incontinence, this would be referred to as an overactive or 'irritable bladder'.This type of incontinence is due to a sensitivity of the bladder wall and disruption of the neuronal mechanisms which control the bladder wall and sphincter. This can greatly affect health related quality of life and may result in a social isolation. Treatment options include physiotherapy, electrical stimulation, medication and in some cases surgery. Medical acupuncture has also been shown to be an effective form of treatment for urge incontinence as is now being more widely recommended to complement or replace the need for medication.

Medical acupuncture has been shown to:

  • Reduce the number of urges and improve health related quality of life.1,3
  • Reduce the frequency of bathroom visits, reduce the numbers of urges, improve bladder capacity as well as improves urinary distress inventory and incontinence impact questionnaire scores.2
  • Electro acupuncture applied to the point SP6, referred to by urologists as PTNS (percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation), has shown to be effective and efficacious in treating overactive bladder in 220 patients.4
  • Other studies have shown that electro acupuncture compares favourably with the tolterodine drug treatment 5 and is a viable long term therapy.6

Our clinical approach is to use Medical Acupuncture alongside diet, lifestyle and exercise advice as part of an integrated approach.

If you need help and would like to explore a medical acupuncture based course of treatment, and for further information, please call the clinic on 01-2834303.

By Simon


1. Bergström K, Carlsson CP, Lindholm C, Widengren R. Improvement of urge-and mixed-type incontinence after acupuncture treatment among elderly women—a pilot study. Journal of the autonomic nervous system. 2000 Mar 15;79(2):173-80.

2. Emmons SL, Otto L. Acupuncture for overactive bladder: a randomized controlled trial. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2005 Jul 1;106(1):138-43.

3. Zhao Y, Zhou J, Mo Q, Wang Y, Yu J, Liu Z. Acupuncture for adults with overactive bladder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Medicine. 2018 Feb;97(8)

4. Peters KM, Carrico DJ, Perez-Marrero RA, Khan AU, Wooldridge LS, Davis GL, MacDiarmid SA. Randomized trial of percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation versus Sham efficacy in the treatment of overactive bladder syndrome: results from the SUmiT trial. The Journal of urology. 2010 Apr 1;183(4):1438-43.

5. Peters KM, MacDiarmid SA, Wooldridge LS, Leong FC, Shobeiri SA, Rovner ES, Siegel SW, Tate SB, Jarnagin BK, Rosenblatt PL, Feagins BA. Randomized trial of percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation versus extended-release tolterodine: results from the overactive bladder innovative therapy trial. The Journal of urology. 2009 Sep 1;182(3):1055-61.

6. MacDiarmid SA, Peters KM, Shobeiri SA, Wooldridge LS, Rovner ES, Leong FC, Siegel SW, Tate SB, Feagins BA. Long-term durability of percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation for the treatment of overactive bladder. The Journal of urology. 2010 Jan 1;183(1):234-40.

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