By Tom Bunn L.Ac.
Since 2008, the Rocky Mountain Center for Advanced Medicine has conducted a small clinical study (10 men) that uses a unique approach to resolving chronic testicular pain. For the past 5 years, we have been treating these 10 patients with trigger point injections in hand and ankle acupuncture points responsible for controlling the lumbosacral and sacroiliac joints.
The results of this study have been very encouraging; however, before we launch into the results, allow me to bring you up to speed on the injections.
Trigger point injections consist of a solution that contains procaine (2%), Traumeel, Vitamin B12, and Folic Acid.
Procaine is a short-acting numbing agent; Traumeel is a “fixed combination of biological and mineral extracts”; and Vitamin B12 is responsible for numerous functions within the body, including the manufacture of blood, DNA, and nerve cells, as well as healthy brain function; and Folic acid (also known as Vitamin B9) works in concert with B12 on a host of biochemical processes within the body.
Ten men between the ages of 30-60 who suffer from chronic testicular pain took part in this study. All of the men experienced on-going testicular pain that lasted for at least six months before the start of this study. Some of these patients had endured more-or-less constant testicular pain for the previous four to six years. One patient had been suffering from testicular pain for more than a decade.
All these men failed traditional treatments such as anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. Each man had a testicular ultrasound to rule out the possibility of testicular cancer. Also, several members of this study were referred by other urologists because these patients had failed to respond to treatment.
In addition to testicular pain, these patients all demonstrated varying degrees of lower back pain and sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and at least 50 percent had already received physical therapy to address symptoms in those areas.
The treatment protocol called for patients to receive the trigger point injections twice a week for the first week and then once a week thereafter.
The average number of trigger point treatments that patients received was four. In nine of the 10 cases, the testicular pain was resolved completely within two to six treatments.
Despite the dramatic reduction in symptoms, all patients were encouraged to continue with physical therapy and other treatment modalities that encourage continued lumbosacral and sacroiliac joint health.
The reason for this request has to do with the connection between lower back health and the recurrence of testicular pain. Once musculoskeletal changes occur in the spine (aging, injury, and so on), patients remain at risk for recurrent symptoms — even if they do not have lower back pain or other local symptoms. In other words, men with chronic testicular pain that stems from lower back issues should continue with a supervised program of stabilization and mobilization to ensure the symptoms don’t return.
Before treatment, the level of testicular pain varied, but it was generally in the 3-4 out of 10 range; however, some patients experienced flair ups that produced excruciating (10-out-of-10) pain.By the end of their treatments, 9 out of 10 patients were pain free. Most of these patients were pain free 1-2 years after treatment.
Despite this nascent study’s small sample size (only 10 participants), our preliminary results indicate the use of trigger point injections in hand and ankle acupuncture points that address musculoskeletal low-back concerns significantly reduced or eliminated testicular pain in 90 percent of cases.
This high resolution rate is very encouraging and indicates that this non-traditional therapy for chronic testicular pain warrants further investigation.
Also, the side effects of this treatment were restricted to the typical effects of any injection: a minute amount of bleeding and very minor local inflammation around the injection site that lasted for less than 24 hours.
In addition to the resolution of our patients’ chronic testicular pain with a minimum of side effects, one of the best outcomes from this study is the return of our patients’ sense of humor. As one of the participants said with a wry smile, “Silly things put where they are; it would help if they were in a different place.”
If you or someone you know suffers from ongoing testicular pain, and would like to become part of this clinical study, please contact the Choices in Health office at 303-444-0840 or email us at [email protected].