Chronic, throbbing, explosive. These are just three words that women have used to describe the oftentimes excruciating pain of endometriosis. The condition was first discovered in Vienna in 1860 and now affects 1 in 10 fertile women, worldwide. Now let me give you a brief introduction to endometriosis pain and how it develops?
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disorder that develops when the endometrium, which lines a woman’s uterus, begins to grow in other locations inside the body. These growths are most frequently found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outside surface of the uterus, or bladder inside the pelvis.
Each month, the tissue lining the uterus thickens throughout the menstrual cycle and subsequently breaks down when blood passes through the vagina. The endometriosis tissue growths react to the same hormones as the uterine lining.
Blood from tissue growth elsewhere in the body, on the other hand, has nowhere to go and cannot drain via the vagina as it would during a menstrual period.
It collects around the tissues and organs in the area, irritating and inflaming them, and occasionally scarring them.
In addition to pain, endometriosis can result in additional symptoms like infertility, heavy periods, bowel and bladder issues, and discomfort during sexual activity.
Diagnosis may take time
Teenagers and adult women might mistakenly believe that their symptoms are a natural aspect of menstruation, which delays the identification of endometriosis.
Sometimes those who do ask for assistance are told they are overreacting to typical menstruation symptoms.
In other instances, the ailment could be confused for another problem, including irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Is there any cure for endometriosis pain?
Treatment for endometriosis is limited and the condition has no known cure, as of now. But, women have found alternative pain relief methods to help manage the pain of this condition and to veer away from the overuse of painkillers.
This guide will explore few pain relief methods, all of which are alternatives to pain medications and help to reduce the symptoms of endometriosis.
The CBD market has seen a surge in popularity over recent years with many people using the natural chemical to treat a variety of conditions. These can include mental health disorders, sleep conditions and now, endometriosis.
The science behind CBD as a source of pain relief is simple; cannabidiol is a type of cannabinoid, a chemical found naturally in marijuana and hemp plants.
The chemical, whilst included in the production of the popular recreational drug, does not cause the euphoric ‘high’ feeling that comes with its usage.
The euphoria Is caused by a separate entity altogether, one known as THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)
It is the confusion between the two that has led people to believe that CBD products are no more than a recreational fad. In reality, these best indica concentrates of CBD has been shown to significantly decrease pain and assist with a multitude of different issues and disorders, such as anxiety and sleep issues.
In a survey conducted in 2021, a group of 253 women who suffered from endometriosis were asked about their experiences in using CBD to treat their symptoms. Of that, 63% of those women had tried a CBD product to help ease their endometriosis pain. Of that 63%, 59% said that the CBD products worked, and were able to alter their dosages of pain medication as a result.
There is strong evidence to suggest that CBD products, such as oral drops, and gummies can be used to help lessen the overbearing pains of endometriosis. Companies such as Allstar CBD stock these products, and encourage the use of them as a natural source of pain relief.
Acupuncture is a favoured, natural method of pain relief for endometriosis as it is believed to help reduce the root cause of the pain, not just temporarily mask it as painkillers would. Patients that took part in an Australian study reported a 48% drop in endometriosis pain over the 8 weeks of acupuncture.
But how is it done?
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into a specific part of the patient’s body to reduce inflammation and pain. For endometriosis, this is usually done over a course of 6-8 weeks and commonly you can expect results in 3-6 months. This is a highly used method in East Asia but has since started to gain more attention within Western medicine, being used for the treatment of endometriosis.
TENS machines, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator machines, are small discrete machines that cling to the skin, sending electrical pulses into the body. The pulses help block the pain signals and help the body to produce endorphins, therefore providing overall pain relief.
TENS machines are usually affordable and can be easily transported for convenient usage on the go, making them a pretty good all-round solution for endometriosis pain. According to Activlife, over 70% of women who tried the machine responded well to the TENS treatment and reported experiencing less pain.
The use of one is not painful, rather it is a slight tickly/tingling sensation. It is not regarded as an unpleasant feeling by many which makes using a TENS machine a great solution to try for your endometriosis pain.
Heat is one of the most common home remedies for endometriosis pain, due to its cheap and simple use.
Much like menstrual cramps, experienced by every woman at some point, using a simple hot water bottle can be a great source of comfort. The heat relaxes the uterus, reducing the tightening of blood vessels, thus improving blood flow to the uterus and easing the pain caused by endometriosis.
This method of pain relief is again, all-natural and is a good way to avoid painkiller overuse. The equipment needed is minimal and affordable also.
You can apply heat treatment to your body in a number of ways. These include:
- A hot water bottle
- A heating pad
- Taking a hot bath
- Heat wrap
- Slipping into a hot tub
It is proven that stress levels can correlate directly with the pain intensity of endometriosis and can have a huge impact on the effects of the condition. Therefore, it is important to relieve stress in any way possible. Of course, for everyone this is done differently, someone’s ultimate way to relax could be another’s worst nightmare. This is why you should find out what works for you, to keep those stress levels low and ultimately reduce the pain of endometriosis.
Some of the most popular methods of stress-relief include:
- Being active – Getting outside and exercising is proven to have a positive impact on stress levels by producing endorphins within the brain.
- Make sure you’re connecting with those around you – This could be talking with a friend, a family member, a colleague or whoever you have around you. Keeping in touch with people ensures that you are not isolating yourself, lowering those stress levels significantly.
- Avoid unhealthy habits – These can include alcohol, smoking and caffeine. It is easy to become dependent on these as coping mechanisms but is important to try not to. These can lead to even more stress, and therefore more intense endometriosis pain.
- Meditation – In recent years, meditation apps like Calm and Headspace have become all the rage with many people using them daily as a stress reliever. Meditation is good for your overall mental health and is proven to have positive effects on stress levels.
Muscle relaxing medications
These medicines work by reducing cramps and pain in the muscles in your pelvis and near your bladder which may be caused by irritation from endometriosis.
Some Examples – baclofen, Zanaflex, Flexeril hyoscyamine, oxybutynin, or diazepam
Chronic pain such as nerve injury, or irritation from endometriosis can be cured by using antidepressants . However, the dose of medicine is smaller than those which is usually given to the patients suffering from depression. Few examples – desipramine, amitriptyline.
Anticonvulsant medications are another essential category which might help women with endometriosis pain. These medicines are taken in smaller doses as compared with those which are given to prevent seizures.
Few examples – gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica), topiramate (Topamax) . Although, Topamax has an additional benefit that is it helps you to lose weight.
Patients may be given access to more interventional therapy alternatives such as injections into various nerves and muscles that may be identified as the source of pain.
Generally, these injections are carried out in a pain clinic with direct X-ray vision.
The results of nerve blockage can be really hard to interpret, hence, it is crucial that only the qualified professional carry out this surgery. Although, this technique is carried out for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes. You may feel temporary pain.
However, if the doctor thinks the patient is responding well then nerve blockage can be suggested.
Spasms in the abdominal wall, lower back, and/or pelvic floor are frequently experienced by endometriosis patients. Chronic muscle hyperactivity can cause painful trigger points to form, which can act as a secondary source of pain.
Injections of local anesthetics, either with or without corticosteroids, can block trigger sites.
Injections into the muscles are also regarded as a diagnostic and therapeutic treatment.
A programme of exercise and relaxation techniques especially designed by physiotherapists to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, reduce pain and to manage anxiety and stress.
It helps the body to get into shape after surgery and by strengthening abdominal and back muscles. Also, it helps women to relax their muscles and reduce their pain.
Pain modifyers are drugs that change the body’s perception of pain. These pills are taken by depression patients but it has also been found effective in the nervous system and the way the body tackles pain.
As we know that pain messages are sent by the central nervous system to the brain, these drugs help to stop those messages from reaching the brain , which eventually lets us feel less pain as compared to earlier.
Hormones are useful in treating endometriosis symptoms because they cause endometriosis patches to cycle in a way that is comparable to the menstrual cycle. Additionally, several hormones may change how we experience pain.
Hormones can be found in the form of pills , injections or shots, and nasal spray.
This treatment usually stops ovaries from producing hormones like estrogen and usually prevents ovulation.
This process may help the slow growth and local activity of birth, the endometrium and endometrial. Additionally, this treatment prevents scars from developing, however, it will not remove the already existing adhesions.
If pain or other symptoms are modest, painkillers could be effective. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, generally known as NSAIDS, are the most used kinds of painkillers.
The usefulness of these drugs in reducing pain brought on by endometriosis is not well supported by research.
Knowing which medications are used to treat endometriosis pain could help explain how this condition generates discomfort.
According to research, Some surgical treatments are effective for short term relief. It might be the case that some healthcare providers may suggest surgery to treat severe pain.
Surgeons can locate any areas of endometriosis and can also tell the size and growth by examining it. Surgeons can remove those patches at the time of surgery.
It is important for you to plan in advance, like what you want , because few things can’t be reversed after the surgery, some processes can affect the fertility of women.
Therefore, it is recommended that women should discuss all these things with the healthcare providers before the surgery and make decisions accordingly.
The end result
Ultimately, using natural pain relief methods for the treatment of endometriosis is a great idea to help steer away from conventional painkillers. Everything is worth a try and giving these treatments a go could result in you finding the right pain reliever for you.