Managing Fibroid Pain: Your Options for Pain Relief and Treatment
Uterine fibroids, also known as myomas, fibromyomas and leiomyomas, are small growths that occur in and on the muscle tissue of your uterus. They can be so small they cannot be seen with the naked eye or so large that they cause pressure on your diaphragm, bladder or rectum. Approximately three out of every four women will develop fibroid tumors, usually during their childbearing years. This type of tumor almost never becomes cancerous, according to the Mayo Clinic, but they can cause many symptoms, including pain.
The first line of defense against abdominal and back fibroid pain is over the counter– or OTC — painkillers. Aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen all ease the milder forms of pain associated with fibroids. Aspirin and ibuprofen also relieve inflammation, while acetaminophen does not. Read the labels of all OTC medications to make sure that they are designed to alleviate your particular symptoms.
Prescription medications such as acetaminophen with codeine can help ease pain that is too severe for over the counter medications. With increased potency come increased risks ranging from enhanced side effects to the possibility of addiction. Tempting as it may be to ask for the most powerful painkillers your doctor is willing to prescribe, it is best to start with the mildest form and give it time to work. Increase potency and dosages in the smallest increments possible.
If painkillers are not easing the symptoms of fibroid pain and you are experiencing extremely heavy periods that last more than seven days, you may want to consider an intra-uterine device, or IUD. These are most often used as a method of birth control, but the progesterone some types contain and release can reduce heavy bleeding. The type of fibroids you have must not be distorting the shape of your uterus for an IUD to be effective and safe.
There are two other non-surgical procedures for dealing with fibroids that are worth a little personal research. Uterine Artery Embolization uses a tiny catheter inserted through a small incision in the abdomen to inject particles into the blood vessels feeding each fibroid tumor. This causes the tumor to shrink and die.
The second procedure is known as ExAblate. It uses focused ultrasound waves to break down the tissues of the fibroids, destroying them.
In cases of extreme fibroid pain, unmanageable periods and effects on your diaphragm, bladder and rectum, you may want to consider surgery. This option can range from removing only the fibroids to removing the entire uterus, which is called a hysterectomy. While this used to be the standard medical response to fibroid tumors, most medical professionals see it only as a last resort.
One innovative and effective alternative to a hysterectomy that recently became available is the Acessa System. This system uses a laparoscopic procedure and is able to shrink or completely eliminate fibroids while keeping the uterus protected and healthy. The procedure also can be done without an overnight hospital stay, has a short recovery time and produces little scarring.
Alternative and Complementary Options
If you prefer the methods of alternative and complementary medicine, the prevailing theory is to avoid all inflammation-causing foods such as alcohol, dairy, meat and sugar. In addition, make use of the phytoestrogens found in plants that lower your body’s natural estrogen levels, most notably soy. Increase your intake of both A and B vitamins and if you are having heavy periods, take an iron supplement. All of these methods cannot only ease pain, but they may help to reduce the length and severity of your periods.
Women’s bodies are as unique as their personalities, so what works for your best friend – or even your sister – may not work for you. Relief is available, so don’t be afraid to try several different methods of pain and symptom relief until you find the one that works for you.
Know Your Options
It is a good idea to discuss all available treatments for fibroids with a health care professional if you feel you may have the symptoms of uterine fibroid tumors, or if you have been diagnosed with uterine fibroid tumors.
Click on Physician Finder to find an Acessa-trained physician near you to see if the Acessa procedure is right for you. Or for more information, please contact Acessa Health at 877.412.3828.