Acupuncture treatment significantly reduces period pain intensity, duration and symptoms over time, a study from Western Sydney University and the University of Auckland has shown.
Researchers found the improvements were sustained for up to a year after treatment.
Up to four out of five women suffer from primary dysmenorrhea, or period pain, at some stage in their lives.
In the study, 74 women aged between 18 and 45 with suspected or confirmed primary dysmenorrhea and no known cause of secondary dysmenorrhea were treated with acupuncture.
Participants in the study were divided into groups and received twelve treatments of acupuncture over three menstrual cycles; either once per week (low frequency groups) or three times in the week prior to their period (high frequency groups). All groups received a treatment in the first 48 hours of their period.
The researchers found high frequency of treatment provided greater improvements in health-related quality of life, such as overall physical component, vitality, social function, and bodily pain.
A reduction in pain relief medication when using manual acupuncture compared to electro-acupuncture was also found.
Dr Armour says the results are promising and with further larger trials may lead to the development of evidence-based guidelines for acupuncture in the treatment of period pain and its associated symptoms.
“Pragmatic trials of acupuncture have shown a reduction in pain intensity and an improvement in quality of life in women with period pain; however evidence has been limited for how changing the ‘dosage’ of acupuncture might affect the outcome,” says Dr Armour.
“Our pilot study found that using manual stimulation of the needles, rather than an electrical pulse, commonly used in many Chinese studies for period pain, resulted in reduced need for pain-relieving medication and improvement in secondary symptoms such as headaches and nausea.
“The latter was unexpected and will be explored further in future, larger trials,” he says.
Read more about the study’s methodology and findings here. Story credit: University of Western Sydney newsroom.
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