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painful periods treatment options

Pelvic Floor Therapy May Be One of Your Best Painful Periods Treatment Options

Painful periods are common, but why suffer?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, more than half of those who have periods suffer from “dysmenorrhea” (pain associated with their cycles) 1-2 days each month.

What causes the pain?

There are two main causes of the pain associated with menstruation:

  • Primary dysmenorrhea is pain caused by the related to menstruation and starts shortly before or after bleeding begins
  • Secondary dysmenorrhea is period pain that is tied to another condition, usually endometriosis or fibroids

Although period pain is a commonly shared experience, your pain shouldn’t be keeping you from doing things like resting comfortably, going to school, going to work, or being active.

Medical Treatment

When seeing a gynecologist or general practitioner for dysmenorrhea, a medical history review and a pelvic exam may be completed. Other exploratory procedures may be done to rule out any medical conditions that should be treated. and possibly an ultrasound or laparoscopy will be completed. Treatment may include medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, other doctors may suggest birth control, or other procedures.

What Helps Painful Periods?

A 2014 review of literature aimed to see if physiotherapy (that’s the international equivalent to Physical therapy) could help with painful periods. An earlier 2007 study also aimed to look at helpful treatments for painful periods.

The reviews found that a variety of interventions were indeed helpful. Here is a short summary:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, help with period pain, however these drugs may cause GI symptoms and ulcers. Please consult your doctor for correct dosage for your symptoms.
  • Topical heat helps ease pain with periods. Try hot water bottles or heating pads for home use. There are also over the counter heating pads that stick to the inside of your underwear for use outside of the house.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units can help reduce pain with periods, according to the study. A physical therapist can help you figure out the correct placement of the electrodes.
  • Acupuncture and acupressure can help reduce pain with periods. Discuss with your doctor if acupuncture is right for you.
  • Abdominal, myofascial, and connective tissue massage has been shown to reduce pelvic pain, including pain with menstruation. A trained therapist can give you treatment in the clinic as well as show you techniques you can do at home.
  • Therapeutic exercise including pilates and belly dance were shown to have clinical benefit for pain with periods.

Can Pelvic Floor Therapy Help?

A trained pelvic health therapist can help reduce discomfort with periods by teaching you pain management strategies that work for you.

What types of treatments you can expect with pelvic floor therapy:

  • Therapeutic Exercises
    • We will teach you exercises that increase range of motion, mobility, and lubrication in the low back and pelvic region, reducing stiffness and pain.
  • Neuromuscular Re-Education
    • We will conduct a thorough intake examination to help determine if you have pelvic floor dysfunction that is contributing to your pelvic pain and painful periods.
    • If dysfunction is present, we will help re-coordinate your brain and body to help the pelvic floor muscles rest in a more relaxed state, reducing pelvic cramps and muscle spasms in the area.
  • Abdominal massage
    • We will teach you techniques to help you relax the tissue restrictions in the abdominal and pelvic cavities that could be contributing to cramps and bloating.
  • Myofascial Release
    • Using manual therapy to address abdominal and pelvic girdle muscles that can be tight or in spasm, causing pain.

Give the therapists at Femina Physical Therapy a call or schedule an appointment today!

 

Resources

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACOG. Dysmenorrhea: Painful Periods.
https://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/faq046.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20150618T1901432825

Gerzson, Laís Rodrigues, Padilha, Juliana Falcão, Braz, Melissa Medeiros, & Gasparetto, Andriele. (2014). Physiotherapy in primary dysmenorrhea: literature review. Revista Dor, 15(4), 290-295. https://dx.doi.org/10.5935/1806-0013.20140063

Proctor, M. L., & Farquhar, C. M. (2007). Dysmenorrhoea. BMJ Clinical Evidence, 2007, 0813. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943779/#BMJ_0813_I10

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What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by J.H.

My last appointment with Heather was over 6 years ago but I still think of her every day. I don’t take for granted that I can easily get out of bed, care for my two active and busy young boys, run, play tennis, clean my house, or sit at a desk for several hours at a time. None of these tasks were easy for me before meeting Heather. Eight years ago my car was struck from behind by a tractor trailer that was estimated to have been speeding. I spent 3 years working with different PTs and Drs trying to heal and move on with my life. When I became pregnant and the hormone relaxin that “relaxes” all the joints of the body and the additional weight gain erased all my progress and I was suddenly in a lot of pain again. My OB sent me to Heather for one last try.

Read more: Testimonial by J.H.

Testimonial by Carolina J.

I had tried Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy before (with another PT) and I had a really bad (painful) experience. A friend of mine and fellow patient, told me about Heather, Laureen and Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) and I decided to try again. I am so happy I did! Femina PT have, literally, changed my life. I was able to do again things I couldn't do for over 10 years!! Their bedside manners are impeccable, their knowledge and understanding make me feel comfortable to recommend this place to anyone in pain. Specially if you have Endometriosis. 100% recommended!!

-- Carolina J., 12/28/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Jamie M.

I have been going to see Heather for a while now, and I can't tell you enough how much she has improved my quality of life. Heather specializes in issues like pelvic floor, but I see her for other orthopedic issues.

I have a lot of chronic joint pain and dysfunction issues (back, hips, neck) that require that have ongoing physical therapy maintenance. The effects of my problem joints/areas overlap and interconnect with each other in complex ways, so helping me requires really having a complete understanding of the entire skeletal and muscular system. Pain does not always appear where the problem actually is, the human body is a twisty, many-layered puzzle. I have an exercise program I do at home and I am very functional, but there are just something things I need a PT to help me out with.

Read more: Testimonial by Jamie M.

Testimonial by Mary L.

I started seeing Heather to treat my Interstitial Cystitis in November 2016. At this time, I was extremely miserable, in constant pain, and felt as though no one was listening or understood what was going on with my body. I have just finished my last appointment and I can honestly say that my life has completely changed for the better because of Heather and her team of PTs! I live almost completely pain free, and when I do have flare ups, I am able to treat them at home on my own. I am so grateful that this office was recommended to me a honestly cannot recommend them enough!

Read more: Testimonial by Mary L.

Testimonial by Amanda W.

Heather's unique physical therapy program literally changed my life! After years of struggling with vaginismus, a condition that made it impossible for me to have intercourse and very difficult to use tampons without pain, a gynecologist referred me to Heather. I was nervous for my first appointment, but Heather's professional and friendly demeanor put me at ease. She did a great job explaining each technique she was using to help my muscles relax. Heather uses a combination of internal and external stretches and exercises to relax the pelvic floor and build muscle strength. Her specially developed home program helped me quickly recover from an issue that seemed insurmountable before meeting Heather. She was optimistic about my progress and incredibly encouraging. Less than 6 months after my first session, I was able to have pain-free sex for the first time in my life! If you are suffering from vaginismus or any other pelvic floor issues, I highly recommend making an appointment with Heather and reading her book!

-- Amanda W., 2/15/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Ann V.

I wish i could give this place 10 stars!! 
I have been suffering from vaginismus for 5 years and never found the cure to it. I had seen an ob/gyn and he diagnosed me with vaginismus and told me i needed a surgery to cure my condition, which i refused to do. He also referred me to a PT that he works with, i had given them multiple calls and they never responded back to me, so i started searching yelp for another PT. I am SO HAPPY I found Heather's office! I was working with Laureen, and with her guidance and techniques i was able to be cured from vaginismus in only 2 1/2 short months!!! I couldn't believe how quickly their program worked for me! I am forever grateful and thankful from Heather, and Laureen! They are the absolute best at what they do!

Read more: Testimonial by Ann V.

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