A menstrual cramp in medical terminology is called dysmenorrhea and is commonly referred to as period pain. The type of pain can be described as throbbing, sharp, dull, heavy or even burning pain. The problem may be complicated with abnormal blood loss and sometimes the pain is caused by the insertion of an IUD used as a contraceptive procedure. The pain is felt in the lower abdomen and also the thighs.
Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) are commonly prescribed but have serious side effects and do not address the cause of the problem. In western medicine the cause of menstrual cramps is often unknown.
Research has now shown that acupuncture for menstrual cramps is more effective than using NSAID’s and without all the side effects such as ulcers.
In fact acupuncture for menstrual cramps has been used for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese medicine theory understands the cause of menstrual cramps and hence can treat the problem to give a lasting result. Women taking NSAID’s will have to keep taking them because the cause of the problem is never being addressed.
Chinese medical trained physicians view menstrual cramps as being due to a number of organ imbalances but with the liver being the most common. If you think about the liver and how it stores blood, it will help understand the importance of emphasizing why the liver can cause menstrual cramps.
The liver meridian is an energy line that runs from the big toe, up the inside of the leg, goes through the genitals and connects with the liver and breast. This is why acupuncture points on the inside of the leg are sometimes selected to treat menstrual cramps.
Some women intuitively find relief when placing a hot water bottle on their lower abdomen. This is because according to traditional Chinese medicine theory one cause of menstrual cramps is caused by what is called cold and damp accumulation. The warmth of the hot water bottle is actually helping treat the cause of the problem however the Chinese medicine treatment using moxibustion is much more effective.
Chinese herbs that help supplement and nourish the blood are also useful in treating menstrual cramps. This is interesting because the herbs themselves are not analgesic (pain stopping) in property yet can still help the problem. Again this is because the herbs address the root of the problem which is the blood itself.
Women’s problems and sports injuries are the most common disorders seen by members of the New Zealand Register of Acupuncturists and Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association. This is because acupuncture and Chinese herbs work so well for these conditions and many people prefer a treatment that is natural, safe and in many instances proven to be more effective than the western medical alternatives of surgery and pharmaceuticals.