Biofeedback Therapy for Prostatitis
What Is Biofeedback Therapy?
Biofeedback therapy for prostatitis is an alternative treatment for chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS). Biofeedback is a technique in which people are trained to control bodily functions that are usually involuntary. Patients can learn to control functions like blood pressure, brainwaves, heart rate, and certain types of muscle tension, which is why it can be helpful for cases of prostatitis that involve pelvic muscle tension.
A biofeedback therapist can use a monitoring device to train men how to make voluntary changes to their muscles. The pelvic muscles help support the bladder and control urine flow. A therapist can help teach men to relax the pelvic floor muscles using feedback from special electrodes. The men then can gradually work to achieve the same responses without needing the device.
As biofeedback therapy seems to work best for conditions that are associated with chronic stress, it can be used for cases of CP/CPPS that are related to pelvic tension due with chronic stress. Some men unknowingly tighten their pelvic muscles when stressed, leading to inflammation and chronic tension and pain. Pelvic tension and pelvic floor disorders make up about half of the causes of pelvic pain associated with CP/CPPS. Stress and psychological health are commonly related to prostatitis.
Biofeedback Therapy for Prostatitis—How Does It Work?
While experts are not exactly certain how biofeedback therapy for prostatitis, or biofeedback in general, works, relaxation seems to be the key.
A research team showed that most men with CP/CPPS had pathological tenderness of the pelvic floor muscles and little or no pelvic floor function. (Zermann 1999) A following study demonstrated that men with CP/CPPS have significantly more abnormal pelvic floor musculature than other men with similar pain. Since biofeedback therapy can help a man control his muscular tension, biofeedback is a drug-free method that can help with managing pelvic tension and pain.
A study on biofeedback therapy for prostatitis involved 31 men who were diagnosed with CP/CPPS between March 2000 and March 2004. All of the men participated in a pelvic floor biofeedback re-education program and worked one-on-one with a therapist. Their progress was evaluated after the first six to eight sessions. A rectal electromyography (EMG) biofeedback probe was used to measure the resting stage of the pelvic floor muscles. The probe was also helpful for instructing the men how to relax their pelvic floor muscles.
Overall, the men had a significant improvement in their symptom scores (the Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index: NIH-CPSI) by the end of the study. The investigators noted that the fact “the EMG results correlated with the NIH-CPSI score appears to emphasize that the pelvic floor plays an important role in the pathophysiology of CP/CPPS.” (Cornel 2005)
In another study, 11 men with CP/CPPS underwent a study of biofeedback and pelvic floor reeducation. Overall, 8 out of 11 patients had an improvement in their CPSI score, and 6 patients had in improvement in their pain scores.
Uses and Side Effects of Biofeedback Therapy for Prostatitis
There are three common types of biofeedback therapy:
- Electromyography (EMG), which measures muscle tension;
- Thermal biofeedback, which measures skin temperature; and
- Electroencephalography (EEG), also called neurofeedback, which measure brain wave activity.
Men with CP/CPPS use EMG biofeedback therapy to manage their symptoms. There are no major side effects associated with EMG. People with epilepsy or at risk for seizures should talk to their doctor before looking into an EEG.
Biofeedback can be used in conjunction with other stress management techniques and stress–relieving exercises such as yoga, tai chi, or even meditation. It also may be used with other natural and alternative treatments for prostatitis, especially pelvic floor rehabilitation. Men who employ multiple different treatment options for their CP/CPPS usually have the best success at eliminating their symptoms.
References for Biofeedback Therapy for Prostatitis:
Cornel EB et al. The effect of biofeedback physical therapy in men with chronic pelvic pain syndrome type III. Eur Urol 2005; 47: 607-11
Segura JW et al. Prostatosis, prostatitis or pelvic floor tension myalgia? J Urol 1979; 122:168
Zermann DH et al. Neurological insights into the etiology of genitourinary pain in men. J Urol 1999; 161: 903