Endometriosis is a painful condition where the uterine tissue begins to grow outside of the uterus causing lesions or nodules to appear on nearby tissue and organs. The main symptom of endometriosis is chronic pelvic pain before, during or after a woman’s period. This means that it’s often dismissed as period pains — both by medical professionals and the sufferers themselves.
1. Lifestyle changes: Pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis, which can be severe and even debilitating. Lifestyle changes are not going to end the pain or cure endometriosis, but they can ease the symptoms and improve women’s quality of life. Being comfortable and reducing stress are the main purposes of these adjustments.
Some tips that might be helpful include: getting eight to nine hours of sleep each night, taking naps if needed, meditating, eating healthy meals three times per day and nutritious snacks throughout the day, continuing with enjoyable activities and staying in touch with friends and family. It’s also important to maintain a routine and keep up with work. Light exercise (like yoga) is also helpful to fight pain and some women find a hot water bottle or hot bath useful. The center also recommends women learn when and when not to push themselves, plan ahead for unexpected pain exacerbations and talk to a counselor about their symptoms.
2. Medication: There are different types of medication that may be recommended to women who suffer from endometriosis-related pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common and include ibuprofen, Voltarol or Ponstan. These work by blocking the body’s production of prostaglandins, which is overproduced by women with endometriosis and is known to cause contractions in the womb lining during menstruation and pain.
There are, however, potential side effects, which include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upsets and stomach ulcers. Other painkillers that may be recommended are codeine-based painkillers, which are helpful but also cause side effects such as constipation and gastro-intestinal distress. Physicians may also recommend simple analgesics like paracetamol. Pain modifiers are also an option, but its mechanism of action is different.
3. Physiotherapy and other options: In the cases of severe and debilitating pain, physiotherapy may be recommended to endometriosis patients. “Physiotherapists can develop a programme of exercise and relaxation techniques designed to help strengthen pelvic floor muscles, reduce pain, and manage stress and anxiety. After surgery, rehabilitation in the form of gentle exercises, yoga, or Pilates can help the body get back into shape by strengthening compromised abdominal and back muscles,” Endometriosis UK explains.
Another treatment option that is presented as an alternative to medication consists of the use of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS) machines. These are small devices with electrodes that can be attached to the skin in order to provide electrical pulses to the body. The painless pulses are expected to block the pain by traveling through the nerves or by stimulating the production of natural pain-fighting endorphins.
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