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Tai Chi and Qigong for Bladder Pain Syndrome
March 21, 2016 -
Management of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) remains a challenge due to poor understanding on its etiology. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), as an optional treatment, has been widely used, because no definitive conventional therapy is available. The different domain of CAM provides miscellaneous treatments for IC/BPS, which mainly include dietary modification, biofeedback, yoga, massage, physical therapy, Qigong, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

Researchers from China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences and Dalhousie University of Canada studied clinical evidence and found that each therapy can certainly benefit a portion of IC/BPS patients. CAM therapeutic characteristics including non-invasive and effectiveness for specific patients allow clinicians and patients to realize multimodal and individualized therapy for IC/BPS.

A systematic review demonstrated that Qigong and Tai Chi can improve physical function, boost immunity, relieve stress, and enhance quality of life. Despite lack of evidence on effect of energy therapies for IC/BPS, Qigong's efficacy on managing chronic pain has been reported. Functional MRI study revealed that Qigong can activate specific brain regions to suppress pain. On the other hand, a study showed that Qigong can relieve stress and anxiety, which may contribute to the improvement of IC/BPS symptoms. However, the efficacy of Qigong usually varies and depends on an individual's confidence in this form of energy therapy.

Despite limited available evidence, CAM therapies are relatively non-invasive and each therapy can certainly benefit a substantial group of IC/BPS patients. Because no definitive treatment is available and management of IC/BPS needs to balance potential benefit and adverse effects of treatment, the relative safety of CAM allows clinicians and patients to realize multimodal therapy for IC/BPS, which is recommended by the International Consultation on Incontinence Research Society.

Moreover, miscellaneous CAM therapies also provide an opportunity for IC/BPS patients to practice an individualized therapeutic strategy. However, the target patient group of each CAM therapy needs to be further explored and defined. In addition, well-designed, randomized, controlled trials are also needed to provide more high quality evidence for the efficacy and reliability of CAM on managing IC/BPS.


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