Endometriosis Pain Relief
Endometriosis can be a very painful and debilitating condition, caused by the escape of endometrial cells in areas of the body other than the lining of the womb.
It’s thought that around one in ten women has endometriosis, and it can affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes and ligaments of the pelvis, but also the bowel, bladder and even the lungs and skin. During the menstrual cycle, the areas of endometriosis spread can bleed, causing swelling, cyst formation, tissue scarring, and considerable pain.
Endometriosis can cause infertility and increase the risk of miscarriage. Many women living with endometriosis will suffer severe chronic pelvic pain (CPP), back pain, pain on passing urine or opening their bowels, pain with intercourse, very painful periods, and fatigue.
Many women suffer with pelvic pain for years before they are finally diagnosed with endometriosis, and sadly, many have experienced of feeling ‘dismissed’ or ‘not believed’ by the medical community or are told that their problem is simply ‘just’ period pain
Not only does endometriosis impact women’s lives in terms of the pain that they experience, but it can also cause fatigue, stress, anxiety, infertility, as well as work disruption and relationship difficulties.
If you’re suffering from endometriosis, you may have already been through hormonal treatments and surgery, but what else can be done to help?
Help for endometriosis pain
- Many of the symptoms of endometriosis (e.g. pain during sex, lower back pain, constipation, and bladder dysfunction) can be helped with pelvic physiotherapy.
- Many women with endometriosis will have a very overactive pelvic floor, and pelvic physio (aka ‘women’s health physiotherapy’) can help relax the pelvic floor, and help to improve pain generated by trigger points and scar tissue.
- I’m a firm believer in the medical uses of acupuncture, and I work with first class, modern acupuncture practitioners. There is evidence to suggest that acupuncture can modify the way that the body works, and in particular the pain pathways of the central nervous system.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a non-invasive method of pain management that involves the use of low-voltage electrical current to stimulate the nerves and block pain signals from being transmitted to the brain.
- The TENS electrodes are placed on the skin near the area where the pain is felt. The electrodes are connected to a small, portable TENS unit, which generates the electrical current.
- The intensity of the current and stimulation pattern can be controlled by you, and it’s thought that the TENS treatment works by activating the production of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving chemicals in the body. It may also block the transmission of pain signals through the pain pathways, reducing the perception of pain.
Pain medications for endometriosis
Anti-inflammatory medications (e.g. ibuprofen) and prostaglandin inhibitors (e.g. mefanemic acid) may help in reducing inflammation and cramping, but despite taking these, many women find that their pain isn’t sufficiently relieved.
Stronger painkillers, such as codeine-based medications, commonly cause constipation, which can exacerbate visceral or pelvic pain. Antidepressant medications which may also be prescribed for pain at night (e.g. amitriptyline) can sometimes be overly sedating, and cause unwanted drowsiness the next morning.
Medical cannabinoids for endometriosis pain
If you have tried many of the ‘traditional’ painkilling medications, but are still struggling, then you may wish to consider the now legal, cannabis-based medications.
Cannabis contains the cannabinoids ‘THC’ and ‘CBD’, and not only can they be effective in reducing pain, lowering anxiety, and elevating low mood, they are now thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect on body tissues, which can be extremely helpful in endometriosis.
- Additionally, many people who use cannabis-based medicines are able to reduce their use of traditional painkillers.
- Surprisingly, and contrary to popular expectations, well-prescribed cannabis-based medications, can have a far lesser side effect profile than conventional medicines, and never cause undue sedation or dependency. They can however, lift mood when it is low, and help sleep, and pain-related anxiety.
- Some studies have suggested that cannabis-based medicines may be able to induce apoptosis (a natural process of death and removal of damaged cells) in endometrial tissue, which could potentially help to slow the progression of endometriosis. It is hoped that these medications could possibly even help to stabilise the proliferation of endometriosis cells, but further research is needed.
How I can help you
When you come to clinic, I will want to hear your whole story, how your symptoms have been affecting you, and any previous treatments and surgeries you’ve had. We’ll talk about how your pain is impacting your life, and your emotional well-being.
If you’ve been suffering from long-term endometriosis pain, and have tried many different treatments without significant relief, then cannabinoid medications may well be an option for you.
My first appointment with Dr. Ordman was reassuring after years of chronic back pain from multiple spinal surgeries.
He was understanding and compassionate as he listened to my story. Having exhausted all traditional medications and having had a spinal chord stimulator implanted and removed, I needed help. I was very interested in trying medical cannabis.
With Dr. Ordman’s guidance, we tailored the medication to my needs. It has been a game changer. I have been able to drop most of my Opioids under his care and have slowly gotten my life back. I am forever grateful to Dr. Ordman and would highly recommend him.
Dr Ordman immediately gives you confidence and always provides a solution which for me, has worked every time. His manner is very reassuring and he never leaves you without support.