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In October, when
we were in Boston for the Fall IC Forum, I saw a homeopath for treatment
of a severe rash I have had on my legs and arms for 7 years. I have
exhausted all traditional treatments, so I thought I'd give homeopathy
a try, again.
Growing up, I
was given homeopathic remedies when I visited my mother's family in
England. My great grandfather was a surgeon and a homeopath. However,
when I saw a well-known doctor/homeopath in Boston for my IC in 1989,
my experience was very negative. The doctor searched my psyche for
the cause of my bladder symptoms. He told me they were caused by sexual
guilt. I felt humiliated, angry and embarrassed, especially because
he had a student sitting in during the appointment. However, the remedy
of bitter cucumber he gave me did calm my bladder pain.
Although I have
a background in holistic healthcare, I have found a lot of alternative
practitioners to be very blaming, assuming and inflexible. When I
saw the new homeopath in October I was skeptical, particularly because
she was the student that sat in on my 1989 visit. Since my husband
Andy is a psychologist and my advocate, he came to the appointment
During the session
I spoke about my body, my life, and even my emotions. My new homeopath
was non-judgemental, and I actually liked how she linked my mind and
my body. She did not say that I caused my IC. She agreed with me that
stress and emotions do not cause illness; they just bring out illnesses
that we are predisposed to genetically.
When I took my
new remedy, about a month ago, it did not affect my bladder except
in a good way. I found voiding easier. I am trying to be patient with
my skin. I believe that because my rash was the last of many conditions
to affect my body, it may also be the last to heal.
from the top of the body to the bottom, and from the inside to the
outside, using naturally occurring essences of plant, mineral and
animal origin to treat illness and pain. Unlike herbs, which are usually
prescribed for specific conditions, homeopathic remedies can be prescribed
specifically for the individual.
care can also work with the individual. I have found great relief
with spinal adjustments. However, alternative therapies and treatments
are only as good as the practitioner, and I have an excellent chiropractor
(who I have seen over a period of 20 years).
Beaumont has a wonderful understanding of health and
illness. Dr. Beaumont, who practices in New Orleans and is of Swiss
decent, has gained a lot of knowledge from her yoga studies in India.
Therefore, I have asked her to answer some questions about bladder
function and chiropractic care. I hope you will learn as much as I
Where are the nerves to the bladder located?
The nerves to
the bladder are located in the lower back. The last five vertebrae,
called the lumbar spine, house the nerve roots to the bladder.*
The spinal nerves exit between these vertebrae, and the spinal nerve
to the bladder, L3, exits between the third and the fourth vertebrae.
have noticed for many years that if the lower vertebrae are curving
sideways, particularly to the right, and particularly the right
vertebrae, the patient often complains of symptoms associated with
frequent bladder illness. When lower back vertebrae lean one way
or the other, most of the time they lean to the right. Consequently,
the bladder and uterus are more irritated on the right side. (Many
IC patients complain of left side pain. I wonder if the right side
might be pulling on the left side in these patients?)
When we need
to use the bathroom to void, and there isn't a bathroom around,
we use our bladder sphincter muscles to hold our urine. Our sphincter
muscles are controlled by voluntary type nerves. When our bladder
expands because of the amount of urine stored in it, the traction
on our bladder wall elicits a reflex of fullness. This reflex is
an involuntary nervous system controlled function. In a state of
bladder illness, we may experience a false fullness in the bladder,
meaning that there is not enough urine in our bladders to warn the
involuntary, or reflex response that gives us the urge to use the
When the bladder
illness is incontinence, there is the inability to control the urine,
meaning the voluntary nerve and sphincter muscles are worn out.
Kegel exercises are usually recommended to strengthen the sphincter
muscles. Kegel exercises can also be practiced preventively to keep
the bladder young. Practicing exercises where the body is inverted,
such as shoulder stands, handstands, etc., helps the bladder to
find its ideal home (posture), hopefully preventing a drop in the
bladder (which occurs with age). The IC patient, who also suffers
with incontinence, may not be able to practice Kegel exercises without
setting off bladder spasms, or practice inverted positions without
experiencing pressure in her/his bladder.
What bladder problems are caused by spinal misalignment?
adjustment to the third lumbar (in the low back), for voluntary
bladder function, and to the sacrum (the triangular shaped bone
at the base of the spine), for the involuntary bladder function
can help to balance overall bladder health. Yet, other vertebrae
adjustments also help. For example, when the lumbar tree and sacrum
cannot be adjusted, because of a malfunctioning of these joints,
the chiropractor knows back-up mechanisms, such as to adjust the
first vertebra in the neck and dorsal number three, the third vertebra
in the middle back. These adjustments will also aid in balancing
one has a pinched nerve in the lumbar tree spine area, where the
voluntary nerves are located, one does not always suffer from bladder
control function. In the IC patient, it is the parasympathetic nervous
system (i.e., the involuntary fold of the bladder located in the
sacrum), which causes the sense of constant fullness. Therefore,
a ruptured disc that can affect the voluntary nerves (i.e., urine
control) does not cause IC or influence the IC patient.
How does bladder inflammation affect the surrounding muscles?
causes heat in and around the bladder. This often causes weakness
around the muscles in the area of the bladder. These pulled muscles,
or these affected muscles, also contribute to more frequent spinal
misalignment and visits to the chiropractor. At the same time, the
compartment that is designed to hold the bladder is always full
in IC patients. Therefore, the blood vessels and nerve plexi, that
are also located in the compartment, get pressure that can lead
to chronic low back, hip and leg pain (even knee pain) that is also
experienced with PMS.
for the bladder has three borders. In the front is the psoas (i.e.,
the groin muscle). In the back is the piriformis muscle (i.e., one
of the deep lateral rotators that work the hip joint), and in the
middle bottom is the sacroiliac joint (i.e. the involuntary nerve
· Why do so many IC patients experience upper body weakness
The upper body also suffers when there is a lot of bladder inflammation
going on, as does the upper back. This is because the lower trunk
blocks circulation from flowing effectively to the heart, and from
the heart back to the toes. *
The vertebrae are the segmented bones of the spinal column.
IC patients are unique in their symptoms, and respond to therapies
differently. This column is not a recommendation for either chiropractic
adjustments, or homeopathy. It is only intended to share information
that may interest, educate, or help some IC patients. Please refer
to our "Patient
to Patient" book for more information on alternative therapies.
Exercise of the Month:
Lie on floor with knees bent out to sides, holding hands loosely around
A. Hold starting position for a comfortable stretch time.
B. Gently rock side to side. Head rolls with movement. Rock six times
Lotus Rock II (Arms Out)
Lie on floor with knees bent out to sides, holding hands loosely around
toes Extend arms out and rest on inside of kneeds.
9A. Rock side to side. Head rolls with movement. Arms gently push
out on legs. Rock six times
Exxagerate rock, roll body over on to side and then onto bent legs.
Stretch arms out on floor in front of body. This is one movement.
- Forcing positions, locking elbows and tensing shoulders.
is an author and IC patient & support group leader who has
been involved in IC work for years. In 1990 she published "Stretch
Into a Better Shape" and produced a stretching and exercise
video for IC patients in 1993. She is a specialist in Aston-Patterning
movement and muscle re-education.
over ten years of clinical and health care management position.
He is currently the Administrator of Maison Hospitaliere, located
in New Orleans. Andrew holds a Ph.D. in Special Education, a
M.A. of Health Adminstration, M.A. of Clinical Psychology.
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