Menstrual cramps are experienced by most women during a significant portion of their lives. While the majority are minimally discomforted, for some, severe menstrual cramps interfere with their normal routine or become entirely disabling for several days each month. If you have severe menstrual cramps, contact the capable, compassionate doctors at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine to discover the welcome relief offered by acupuncture

What causes menstrual cramps?

Menstrual periods are a normal part of life for women during their reproductive years. Each month, a woman’s uterus, unless she becomes pregnant, contracts to help expel its lining. Hormone-related substances known as prostaglandins trigger the uterine muscle contractions necessary to accomplish this, frequently resulting in pain and inflammation. Medical research shows that more severe menstrual cramps are associated with higher levels of prostaglandins. 

The primary symptom of dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cramps) is throbbing or tightening in the lower abdomen that occurs before and during menstruation. Some women may also experience:

  • Pain that radiates to the lower back and thighs
  • Nausea
  • Loose stools
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Fortunately, acupuncture has a successful record of reducing menstrual cramps and even regulating periods for some women.

Risk Factors for Severe Menstrual Cramps

You are more likely to have extremely painful menstrual cramps if you:

  • Smoke
  • Are younger than 30 years of age
  • Reached puberty at or before age 11 
  • Tend to bleed heavily during periods 
  • Have irregular menstrual bleeding
  • Have a family history of dysmenorrhea 

Having one of the following complications also increases your risk of suffering severe menstrual cramps:

  • Endometriosis 
  • Uterine fibroids 
  • Adenomyosis 
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease 
  • Cervical stenosis 

Although even very painful menstrual cramps do not usually result in other problems, some of the complications that worsen the cramps are associated with fertility or pregnancy problems, so it is important to have a thorough gynecological exam before having your menstrual cramps treated with acupuncture.

How does acupuncture work to alleviate menstrual cramps?

Acupuncture is founded on the principle that a primary energy source, known as Qi, flows freely through healthy bodies. When that energy source is blocked, however, bodies suffer symptoms like pain or dysfunction — in this case, menstrual cramps. 

The pathways Qi travels, known as meridians, have been carefully charted. During acupuncture, hair-thin needles are inserted into precisely marked points along the meridians. Left in place for a short time, these needles serve to remove blockages and allow Qi to flow freely once more. Once this occurs, pain is relieved and health is restored.

At Long Island Rehabilitation Medicine, our physicians have mastered the art of acupuncture. You will barely feel them inserting the tiny needles and will be able to completely relax during treatment sessions which last approximately 20 minutes. In fact, some of our patients doze during acupuncture.

How many acupuncture sessions will I need to feel relief?

Every patient’s response to acupuncture is unique, another reason it is essential to have the person administering treatment tuned in and concerned with your response. Though some patients may experience immediate relief after a single session, most often several treatments are necessary for noticeable improvement. In any case, our physiatrists, whose primary focus is relieving your pain, will work with you to determine a treatment program that fits comfortably into your schedule.

How Acupuncture Has Become a Treatment Valued by Western Medicine 

For thousands of years, Eastern medical practitioners have administered acupuncture to treat a wide range of health issues to millions of patients, among them menstrual cramps. For hundreds of years, Western medicine was generally dismissive of the benefits of acupuncture as a therapeutic option. 

Fortunately, during the last 50 years, Western medical researchers have investigated acupuncture in multiple clinical trials. Eventually, acupuncture was validated for certain types of healing by three major health organizations:

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • The World Health Organization (WHO)

Our well-trained physiatrists, whose medical approach is nonsurgical, practical, and holistic, are glad to be able to offer acupuncture to our patients as a safe, timesaving, minimally invasive procedure to combat severe menstrual cramps. 

How Western Doctors Explain Acupuncture’s Success

Western medicine may use different words to describe the efficacy of acupuncture, but doctors in both hemispheres agree that acupuncture works to reduce pain and promote healing. We now know that acupuncture:

  • Stimulates the central nervous system, triggering the release of endorphins, natural substances that create positive feelings and suppress pain
  • Increases the speed of electromagnetic signals, facilitating the release of immune cells
  • Changes brain chemistry by releasing neurotransmitters and neurohormones

Our doctors are well-trained practitioners who often administer acupuncture and can attest to the fact that this treatment is a godsend to some patients dealing with extreme pain before and during menstruation.

Benefits of Treating Menstrual Cramps with Acupuncture

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we use only nonsurgical treatments, not only traditional ones like corticosteroid injections but alternative ones like acupuncture as well. Acupuncture has a number of advantages over other pain treatment methods in use for menstrual cramps, including that it:

  • Is pain-free 
  • Involves no down time
  • Is administered with single-use sterilized needles
  • Is drug-free and non-addictive
  • Is free of dangerous side effects
  • Is able to be combined with other therapies without fear of interactions

One of the advantages of acupuncture that we observe in our clinical practice is that acupuncture is frequently helpful when other treatments fail.

Contact Us to Discuss Whether Acupuncture Will Relieve Your Menstrual Cramps

Isn’t it time you stopped suffering on a monthly basis? Make an appointment at one of our offices in Nassau or Suffolk to explore options to relieve your menstrual cramps. You will be pleased to find not only our doctors, but all of our staff members, are caring and responsive to your needs.