Optimal acupoint and session of acupuncture for patients with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome: a meta-analysis

Transl Androl Urol. 2021 Jan;10(1):143-153. doi: 10.21037/tau-20-913.


Background: The study aims to perform a meta-analysis of published trials and evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture on chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) by symptom score reduction, optimal acupuncture session, and most frequently used acupoints.

Methods: A literature search was performed for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing efficacy of acupuncture with sham acupuncture or standard medication on CP/CPPS. The primary outcome was the reduction of National Institute of Health-Chronic Prostatitis Index (NIH-CPSI) total score and its subscales. The optimal acupuncture session to reach its clinical efficacy and most common compatibility rule of acupoints were also evaluated.

Results: Ten trials involving 770 participants were included. Meta-analysis showed compared with sham acupuncture, acupuncture yielded significant reduction in NIH-CPSI total score [weighted mean difference (WMD): 7.28, 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 5.69-8.86), and provided better pain relief (WMD: 3.57, 95% CI: 2.07-5.08), urinary symptoms improvement (WMD: 1.68, 95% CI: 1.13-2.22), and quality of life (QOL) (WMD: 2.38, 95% CI: 1.41-3.36). Compared with standard medication, acupuncture were more efficacious in reducing NIH-CPSI total score (WMD: 3.36, 95% CI: 1.27-5.45), also showed significant greater pain relief (WMD: 2.36, 95% CI: 1.67-3.06), marginal advantage in improving QOL (WMD: 0.98, 95% CI: 0.12-1.83) but no difference in reducing urinary symptom (WMD: -0.03, 95% CI: -1.30 to 1.24). Four acupuncture sessions were the minimum "dose" to reach clinical efficacy, and prolonged acupuncture sessions continuously improved urinary symptoms and QOL. The majority of acupoint selection strategies were based on the combination of any three acupoints from CV3, CV4, BL32, SP6, and SP9.

Conclusions: Acupuncture has promising efficacy for patients with CP/CPPS, especially category IIIB, in aspects of relieving pain and urinary symptoms and improving the QOL. Acupuncture may serve as a standard treatment option when available, and a tailored comprehensive treatment strategy for CP/CPPS is the future trend.

Keywords: Acupuncture; National Institute of Health-Chronic Prostatitis Index (NIH-CPSI); acupoint selection; acupuncture session; chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS).