If you’re struggling with overactive bladder symptoms, you may be feeling frustrated and hopeless. Normal bladder function is something most of us take for granted, but with overactive bladder, every day activities and peace of mind suffer from frequent interruptions of bathroom breaks and bladder discomfort.
Overactive bladder is a condition affecting many women. It is characterized by urinary urgency and frequency but may also include urinary incontinence issues. Treatment options typically involve lifestyle modification, prescription medications, and pelvic floor physical therapy. However, a newer treatment option for overactive bladder is emerging with research proving its’ effectiveness in treating and managing overactive bladder.
Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation (PTNS)
Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation, or PTNS, is a newer therapy based on acupuncture and backed by research. Treatments use gentle, comfortable electric stimulation of the tibial nerve in the lower leg to affect bladder function. Nerves exit the spine, run through the sacral area to innervate the bladder, and branches to continue down the legs. By stimulating the lower leg, we can affect the nerves that also innervate the bladder without having to do any invasive stimulation in the pelvic area. The stimulation feels like a very comfortable buzzing sensation, and many patients relax or even nap on the table while receiving the treatment.
A 2018 study compared the effectiveness of the medication solifenacin, PTNS, and the combination of medication and PTNS. The study concluded that PTNS was more effective than medication alone, but the combination of medication and PTNS proved to be the most effect. The combination of medication along with PTNS allows for a lower dose of medication to be used, while having greater efficacy and lower side effects. Additionally, the study followed up with participants 10 months later and found that the combination of medication and PTNS had longer lasting effects.
Treatment of Overactive Bladder with PTNS
PTNS treatments typically last about 30 minutes and are given weekly for 12 weeks. After 12 weekly treatments, substantial improvement in overactive bladder symptoms should be seen. At this point, monthly maintenance treatments are highly recommended to maintain the improvements.
PTNS treatments can be combined with pelvic floor physical therapy or prescription medications. For best results, lifestyle modifications, including stress reduction and diet changes, are highly recommended in addition to PTNS. Your acupuncturist will discuss your overall health and create a comprehensive treatment plan to best address your concerns and help you meet your health goals. Learn more about your acupuncturist here.