Background: Dysmenorrhea or menstrual pain is one of the most common disorders experienced by 50% of women in their reproductive age. Adverse effects of medical treatments and its failure rate of 20-25% have caused many women to seek other complementary and alternative treatment methods for primary dysmenorrhea. Hence, this study aimed to compare and determine the efficacy of reflexology and Ibuprofen on reduction of pain intensity and duration of menstrual pain.
Methods: This was a quasi-experimental clinical trial study on 68 students with primary dysmenorrhea living in Isfahan University of Medical Sciences’ dormitories. Simple random sampling was done considering the inclusion criteria and then the students were randomly divided into two groups. In the reflexology group, the subjects received 10 reflexology sessions (40 minutes each) in two consecutive mense cycles. The Ibuprofen group received Ibuprofen (400 mg), once every eight hours for 3 days during 3 consecutive mense cycles. To assess the severity of dysmenorrhea, Standard McGill Pain Questionnaire, visual analog scale (VAS) and pain rating index (PRI) were used in this study.
Results: Findings of the study showed that the two groups had no statistically significant difference in terms of demographic characteristics (p > 0.05). Reflexology method was associated with more reduction of intensity and duration of menstrual pain in comparison with Ibuprofen therapy. Independent and Paired t-test showed that there was a significant difference in the two groups between intensity and duration of menstrual pain using VAS and PRI in each of the 3 cycles between reflexology and Ibuprofen groups (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Considering the results of the study, reflexology was superior to Ibuprofen on reducing dysmenorrhea and its treatment effect continued even after discontinuing the intervention in the third cycle. Therefore, considering that reflexology is a non-invasive, easy and cheap technique, it seems that it can replace anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to avoid their adverse side effects.
Keywords: McGill pain questionnaire scale, Primary dysmenorrhea, ibuprofen, reflexology.