Acupuncture for Period Pain
Types of Period Pain
Painful menstruation is a one of the most common gynecological disorders. There are a variety of symptoms such as painful abdomen, painful lower back, and headaches. For the severe case, pain killer may be needed to relieve the pain.
Period pain, formally called dysmenorrhea, can be divided to two types;
primary (functional) dysmenorrhea and secondary (organic) dysmenorrhea.
Primary dysmenorrhea is commonly occurs in teenage girls and young women in their early 20's. It is not caused by inflammation, new growths, or anatomic factors. The main causes include constitution, excessive secretion of prostaglandin, immature uterus or ovaries, cold, and stress.
Secondary dysmenorrhea possesses some disease on uterus or ovaries. It normally develops in women after the late of 20's. The pain starts when the period starts, and can persist for over 3 days. Some women can experience pain between periods.
The main causes include endometriosis, uterine fibroid, and adenomyosis of the uterus.
Tightness on ilium crest, lower abdomen, or inguinal area can often be seen in women who suffer from period pain. Abnormal shape of the sacral bone can be also observed. Tightness and no elastic force on sacral region can be found when mild pressure is applied.
Tightness around ovaries can give us an indication of the severity of the symptoms. Tightness of the abdomen around both ovaries may indicate pain every month. In case there is tightness on only one side of the ovary, period pain may occurs strongly every other month.
TCM approach for Period Pain
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, period pain is mainly caused by one or more of the following patterns:
- Stagnation in the meridians that pass through the lower abdomen, inguinal area, or sacral region
- Stagnation of Cold in the uterus
- Deficiency of Qi and Blood
- Accumulation of heat, dampness or phlegm
- Imbalance of Kidney, Liver, Spleen and Small intersine meridians
Main goal of treatment is to regulate the flow of related meridians, tonify the deficiencies, open the blockage, and remove the excesses.
There are some systematic researches, meta-analysis and randomized controlled trial published between March 2013 to August 2018.
- Efficacy of Acupuncture in the Management of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Randomized Controlled Trial (Shetty et al, 2018)
- Acupuncture for Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials (Liu et al, 2017)
- Acupuncture is effective and acupressure may be effective for pain relief; acupuncture trials had low to moderate risk of bias; acupressure trials high risk of bias (Chen et al, 2013 - MA of 3 acupuncture and 4 acupressure RCTs)
- Acupoint stimulation superior to controls for pain relief; low to moderate quality evidence (Xu et al, 2014 MA of 20 RCTs of acupoint stimulation)
- Acupuncture and acupressure (vs placebo, waitlist or medication) reduced pain intensity, while acupuncture also improved quality of life; moderate quality evidence (Abaraogu 2015 - SR of 8 RCTs and MA of 4 RCTs)
Still high quality of researches will be needed to confirm the effectiveness.