Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is characterised by mood swings, swollen abdomen, headaches, back pain, food cravings, fatigue, irritability or depression, in the days before a woman’s monthly period. The severity of these symptoms can range from mild to incapacitating and may last from a couple of days to two weeks.
It has been estimated that three out of every four menstruating women experience some form of PMS, and it is more likely to trouble women from their late 20′s to early 40′s. Between 10-20% of all women experience symptoms that are severe or even disabling.
There are several contributing factors that may have an effect on the level of discomfort experienced, these include:
Nutritional – Having a balanced and healthy diet is important at all times. Some women can experience cravings during the time of their period which may be due to deficiencies somewhere in the diet, exacerbated further by menstruation. Low iron levels are commonly found in women with heavy periods and can also contribute to feelings of lethargy and irritability.
Hormonal – Symptoms have often been thought to be related to abnormal levels of oestrogens and progesterone. These are the two main hormones involved in the cyclical control of the reproductive cycle. Treatment aimed at restoring these levels to normal is often shown to have limited effect.
Bio-mechanical – In many cases dysfunction within the lower part of the spine can contribute to symptoms. It may interfere with the nerve signal supplying the reproductive organs or lead to muscular tightness and spasm often more acutely felt around the time of your period.
This dysfunction may occur for several reasons; it may be due to trauma to the area, poor posture or as a compensation for problems elsewhere in the body.
Conventional Treatment of PMS
- Hormone manipulation; oral contraceptives, natural progesterone etc.
- Painkillers; aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen etc.
- Antidepressants; Prozac, Zoloft etc.
Although Osteopathy and Massage care cannot fix the way your body responds to the hormonal changes that precede menstruation; several studies have shown that it can help decrease many of the symptoms of PMS without the potential side effects of prescription drugs.
Since the nerves that exit the lower back are responsible for regulating all of the tissues in the lower abdomen, any pressure or irritation that can be alleviated through treatment can be helpful. We can help correct your body’s areas of bio-mechanical dysfunction and also give nutritional advice.
However, there may also be medical reasons behind severe PMS, as primary health care professionals our practitioners are trained to recognise when referral and co-management may be needed.
At VitaPhysical Jason our Osteopath and our Massage Therapists provide a safe and natural form of treatment in which many women find great relief. PMS can be very frustrating for both the sufferer and their family. Why not come down to the clinic to see what we can do to make that time of the month a bit easier.
- Regular Exercise
Walking even as little as one mile a day can be extremely beneficial as it increases the oxygen level in the blood. This can help the body to better absorb nutrients, eliminate toxins and maintain stable hormone levels.
Practice stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, stretching and yoga.
- Heat Therapy
Take a warm bath or use a heating pad in the abdominal area to relieve cramps. Warmth increases blood flow to the pelvic area and relaxes the muscles.
- Increase consumption of plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Meals high in complex carbohydrates (plant foods) have been shown to help in dealing with stress by increasing the body’s production of serotonin, a brain chemical with anti-depressant properties.
- Reduce intake of sodium, processed foods and fast foods – this can help prevent water-retention and bloating.
- Limit intake of red meats and dairy products. Consuming these in abundance promotes the type of hormonal imbalance that causes PMS.
- Essential fatty acids can be useful in the treatment of PMS and menstrual pain.
If you are having trouble with PMS and cannot seem to find a cure, please ring us directly on 0191 565 8886 for further information and guidance.