A new Chinese study shows that an injection of vitamin K into an acupuncture pressure point may help women manage their dysmenorrhoea.
This is good news for women that suffer from dysmenorrhoea, the medical term for period pain, on a regular basis. For some, taking medication is not an option and for others painkillers such as paracetamol are not effective.
A drug free method is a positive step forward because period pain affects women world -wide from early teens all the way to the end of menopause.
What Is Dysmenorrhoea?
Period pain is usually caused by cramps in the uterus when the womb contracts in order to shed its lining and start menstruation.
When the uterus cramps, blood vessels lining the womb are briefly cut off from their blood supply. Without blood, and therefore oxygen, body tissues release chemicals that trigger the pain reflex.
On top of this the chemical prostaglandin is also released making the womb contract even more causing further pain.
Pain varies between women but it can be sharp and intense or dull and constant. Pain may spread to the lower back and thighs too.
Other symptoms of dysmenorrhoea are:
- feeling faint
What happened in the study?
The study took place in a Chinese clinic. 80 women suffering from period pains aged 14-25 were recruited for the study. These women were not using oral contraceptives, IUDs (intrauterine device for contraception) or anticoagulant drugs and they had not previously undergone abdominal surgery.
The women were gathered into three groups.
Group A received saline acupuncture point injections in both legs and a saline right buttock injection. This was the control group.
Group B received a vitamin K deep muscle injection in the right buttock and saline injections in both legs just above the acupuncture point. This made sure they received vitamin K, but not at the acupuncture point.
Group C received a vitamin K injection in the acupuncture points and a saline injection in the buttocks.
And the results?
All three of the groups reported pain relief but group 3, who received a vitamin K injection in the acupuncture point, reported significant pain reduction and reduced menstrual distress for six months post treatment.
The researchers state that the ‘acupuncture point injection of vitamin K3 relieves menstrual pain rapidly and is a useful treatment in an urban outpatient clinic’.
There are few reported side effects for this treatment which has been carried out for a numbers of years, since 1985, at the Chinese Menstrual Disorder Centre at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Hospital in Shanghai.
Because period pain is so prevalent, causing school disruption in teens and a diminished quality of life for many women, this study is encouraging.
Hopefully further work will uncover other non-drug approaches to dysmenorrhoea in the future, and that the vitamin K approach is investigated more thoroughly. Researchers suggest nutritional approaches to dealing with dysmenorrhoea as an avenue for further investigation.
It’s certainly an approach worth keeping an eye on if you suffer from uncontrolled period pain or want a non-drug approach to pain control.
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