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Continuous topical heat was as effective as ibuprofen for dysmenorrhoea

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QUESTION: Is continuous, low level, topical heat as effective as oral ibuprofen for dysmenorrhoea (menstrual pain)?

Design

Randomised {allocation concealed}*, blinded {patients, clinicians, and outcome assessors}*, controlled, 2 × 2 factorial trial with follow up over 2 days of treatment.

Setting

Texas, USA.

Patients

84 non-pregnant women who were ≥18 years (age range 21–50 y) and who predictably had moderate or greater menstrual pain (4 of previous 6 cycles), a history and physical examination consistent with primary dysmenorrhoea, regular menstrual cycles, pain relief from over the counter analgesics, and were using reliable contraception. Exclusion criteria were cutaneous lesions involving the abdominal wall, microvascular disease (including diabetes), known or suspected drug or alcohol abuse, known or suspected contraindication to oral ibuprofen, and recent pregnancy. 79 women (94%) were included in the efficacy analysis.

Intervention

Women were allocated to 1 of 4 treatment groups, each of which comprised …

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