If you’re someone who experiences annoying, painful, even debilitating cramps during your period – you’re far from alone. An astounding 80% of women encounter some kind of period pain at some point in their lives, and up to 10% say that the pain is severe enough to disrupt their daily life. For people seeking relief from this pain, it’s helpful to know how to use heat packs for cramps.
The technical term for menstrual pain is dysmenorrhea, an ancient Greek expression that literally means “difficult monthly flow.” This can take the form of throbbing or tugging like pains in the lower abdomen, otherwise known as cramps. Other symptoms of dysmenorrhea can include lower back pain, nausea, and fatigue.
Although period cramps are extremely common, they vary in severity. While using heat packs for cramps can be soothing, it’s important to follow the exact directions of your doctor. Always seek professional medical care if you’re in severe pain.
What Causes Cramps?
The pain from cramps may stem from an increased prostaglandins production. Prostaglandins are hormones that control many processes in the body. They cause inflammation as part of the healing process, and also trigger muscle contractions.
Excessive prostaglandins levels may lead to excessive inflammation – which can be painful. Research indicates that those who suffer from severe menstrual cramps have a higher prostaglandins production than those that don’t.
Do Heat Packs Help Cramps?
The practice of using heat packs for cramps is an incredibly common home remedy. People have often used it as a non-pharmacological method or in combination with anti-inflammatory medicines. Using heat packs for cramps is comforting since heat can reduce the inflammation that causes pain.
To test the efficacy of using heat for cramps, the National Library of Medicine conducted a study comparing heat treatment with ibuprofen and a placebo treatment. The trial concluded that continuous, low level topical heat therapy was as effective as ibuprofen for the treatment of dysmenorrhea.
Another study was conducted on people with arthritis pain. The subjects of the study were undergoing mud pack therapy - a form of heat therapy. The results concluded that the mud pack therapy had resulted in pain relief by reducing the levels of prostaglandin and leukotriene (another inflammatory chemical).
While mud pack therapy seems relaxing, a more convenient form of heat therapy for cramps are heat packs. The ThermalMAX Heat Packs offer up to two hours of heat for the continuous topical heat therapy that sufferers of menstrual cramps need. The long-lasting microwavable heat pack for cramps also comes with a wearable wrap and strap.