Painful periods, endometriosis and Osteopathy
Most women will experience abdominal cramping or back pain during their period at some stage in their life. But fact is period pain is common but is not normal. Pain can vary from a vague annoying cramp or ache to something that stops you in your tracks and interrupts daily function. There can be a number of causes of pain during menstruation we discuss two of the common ones here.
Primary Dysmenorrhea, or painful periods happen when the muscles in the uterus contract or become tight due to inflammation. This can affect 40-70% of all women and can cause significant pain. It is not associated with any underlying abnormality. It is thought to be caused by an increase in activity of the hormones prostaglandins within the uterus during the period. The pain can include cramping, a heavy feeling in the pelvic region, back, stomach or even leg pain. Some women may also experience nausea or vomiting. It can prevent women from going to work or participate in sports.
Endometriosis (a type of secondary Dysmenorrhea) is an inflammatory oestrogen dependent condition that affects 5-10% of women. It occurs when endometrial cells (a tissue usually found in the uterus) are found outside the uterus and in other organs causing pain and inflammation. It can affect the bladder, bowel and fallopian tubes as well as many other sites in the pelvic girdle.
FACT: Endometriosis is more common than diabetes or breast cancer, yet has no known cause or cure
Endometriosis has a vast and wide range of symptoms including but not limited to :
Dysmenorrhea or painful periods
Severe abdominal or pelvic pain, that doesn’t settle with basic pain relief.
Pain during sex
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) type symptoms – constipation, diarrhoea and bloating
Lethargy, extreme tiredness and feeling faint
How can Osteopathy help?
Inflammation of internal organs can cause musculoskeletal symptoms and vice versa, therefore helping correct any biomechanical imbalances within the pelvic area may help reduce pain.
Osteopathic techniques may help improve blood flow to the uterus and endometrium by ensuring the diaphragm muscle is functioning optimally. The diaphragm plays a key role in proper arterial and venous flow throughout the body.
Improving joint mobility and decreasing muscle tightness in the pelvis may also be able to help with lymph and venous (vein) drainage. Poor drainage away from the pelvis can be associated with increased inflammation and pain in an area. By improving motion through the pelvic region, the diaphragm and ribcage, we can help encourage drainage and decrease inflammation.
The uterine muscles and blood vessels neural supply is derived from not only the pelvic region but also the Thoracic spine. So ensuring good movement above and below the pelvis is important for optimal neural supply to the endometrium and can help settle the pain.
We can also help design an exercise program to help encourage muscles activation and blood flow in the pelvic region.
For more information on osteopathy or what to expect for your consultation see here
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For more info on endometriosis here is an excellent resource from Endometriosis Australia