Monday, August 08, 2005
How Karate Helped "Cure" My Prostatitis and Caught My Interest
For thirteen years I suffered with chronic prostatitis, from 1990 until 2003. “Prostatitis” was only once a bacterial issue, the other times I had nothing to indicate anything except viral or “abacterial” prostatitis. I went through Floxin, other antibiotics, Prosed, drainage, Flexeril, cranberry juice, hot baths, hot compresses, and saw palmetto; eventually a cystoscopy which ruled out other issues (my urologist called down to my wife after the procedure and said “Joe has magnificent flow”; yes, but I still had prostatitis). I was very frustrated.
As I read about my condition, I began to learn about the diagnosis du jour “chronic pelvic pain syndrome” (CPPS). With the suspected origin as tightness of pelvic floor muscles, I saw all of my symptoms listed on Internet sites regularly: debilitating radiating pain from the back, through the groin, and down one or both legs; urinary urgency forced me to learn where all of the rest areas and restaurant rest rooms were on I-95 between Rhode Island and New York. Before getting on a plane I would pop three or four ibuprofen and just hope to get through it. I would cancel business trips just not to sit on planes, affecting my income. I would have to take time out of each day to rest and hope the pain would subside when an attack would come. I would skip going to church to avoid the hard benches. I fit the profile of how one gets this way: lack of activity, such as sitting for hours at desks or in cars, which builds up over time, causing the pelvic area to fall out of condition. If this was muscular, I decided that acting aggressively was needed, and soon.I bought hemorrhoid rings to use at my desk, car, and kitchen. Things were better, but I still had attacks. In December 2001, I decided to get out of the house for a weekly karate class at the same school my son would go to on Saturdays.
After a few months, I happened to notice my symptoms got better, but they were still there.Another complicating factor came on the scene: I had serious side effects from statins. I stopped taking them and decided to take karate another time during the week, and to change my diet to lose more weight (I had put on 40 pounds on low fat diets through the 1990s; I started a low-carb/low-fat diet in May 2000 and to date I have lost 50 pounds). My cholesterol readings got better; my semi-weekly karate classes got me into better shape, and my symptoms subsided some more.My cardiologist (whom I no longer see) had me start Niaspan, which caused me to have liver toxicity (it was described to me as “drug hepatitis”; it took six weeks for me to feel normal again). I decided I would take three karate classes a week, and I swore off cholesterol medications for good, but that is another story.
Around that time I learned of the book “A Headache in My Pelvis” and purchased it from the Prostatitis Foundation. As I read the book I was very skeptical, as I became skeptical of all prostate “cures” (when I saw 40%+ of placebo groups getting better in some studies, which was just a bit less than the treatment groups, I knew something other than the supposed innovative treatment was up). As I flipped through the pages I saw the exercises the authors suggested. They looked suspiciously like some of the stretches and muscle relaxation techniques we were doing in our karate warmup. I showed the book to my teacher, and they looked a lot like yoga to him. We had a short discussion and tried some floor positions. I started to include the exercises in my pre-class stretching and at home. The difference was incredible, in just weeks.I have not had to take any painkillers or analgesics (like ibuprofen) for two years for a “prostate attack.” (I do take it occasionally because I am an out-of-shape middle-aged guy  taking karate classes with people half my age, and I get sore when they don’t).
I heartily recommend increased physical activity as a principal means of working with CPPS. The karate I take is traditional Okinawan karate; it is not American-ized, nor is it Japanese. “Fighting” is not stressed as it is in many schools. The workout is intense, and it increases in intensity as your ability and stamina increases. As one who treadmilled about three times a week, I can say I have never had a workout like karate offers, which implies to me that one must become exhausted and drenched with sweat regularly before one can really say they are working out. Keeping a good karate stance and executing the various kicks, and practicing regularly, in addition to the stretches seem to be what help the pelvic symptoms most. Importantly, I am not good at karate (I am currently a green belt, and students with less tenure regularly pass me for promotion to brown belt; but they don’t get the benefits of karate that I have had, and I hope they never have to). No one should be intimidated or embarrassed about how they perform; if they are, it means they are in a poor school.I would be pleased to discuss my experiences with CPPS/prostatitis with anyone who desires to.
This is a debilitating problem, and people who have it are subject to the claims of many charlatans and quacks. While I have had a good experience with a non-medical cure, it is not a simple one, as it requires much dedication to stay on top of the problem. Not everyone can afford karate class, nor the six hours a week to do it. I am lucky that I find it interesting (my son has since quit taking the classes; it is unusual for a parent to keep going for class, I am told), and I am lucky that I have an understanding family and work situation to explore it.
The karate dojo I attend is Branchaud Dojo in North Smithfield, RI www.branchdojo.com , which is run by Sensei Dennis Branchaud and his wife, Kim. He is familiar with my situation. He is very serious about his craft and his art, and I have found him very open to discuss physical issues and problems. I heartily recommend him to anyone who wants to try dealing with CPPS by this route.
Instinctively, I've felt that losing weight would help, but that's not easy--I am about 40 lbs. heavier than I am comfortable with. Apparently, I've got to do it all the same.
What you experienced is consistent with a congested liver. Focus on liver support and I suspect you'll feel even better. Meanwhile, I may take up the martial arts again.