Dysmenorrhea as a leading cause of pain, presents with lower abdominal pain with or without radiation to the low back, is reported in 40-90% of female adolescents and 10-20% of young adults. It causes a chronic pain syndrome with long intermittent periods ranging 24-72 hours of suffering, severe and distressing enough that it often requires absence from school or work. Symptoms can include primary reduced motor functionality, as well as reduced quality of life and social activities. Other symptoms can include nausea, backache, fatigue, diarrhea, sleeplessness, and nervousness.
Brain studies have observed differences between females with and without dysmenorrhea. Females with chronic menstrual pain have abnormal function and structural changes in the medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and insula. These regions form some of the cognitive and emotional networks that process how we respond to pain. Besides the psychological stress caused by the recurrent and chronic menstrual pain, prevailing anxiety, chronic stress, depression, and loneliness increases dysmenorrhea and menstrual cycle problems.
With medication management lacking efficacy, studies have turned to supporting brain networks to change mood and pain processing with dysmenorrhea. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has risen as a unique approach toward treating chronic pain syndromes. By placing a positive electrode and a negative electrode in specific regions of the scalp we can transmit an electrical current through the skull to alter cortical excitability and mental processes that alter pain and mood. tDCS has been demonstrated to be a very safe and once trained an easy therapy that can be applied as needed in the comfort of your own home. tDCS sessions last 20 minutes are easily implemented in a flexible at home therapy that is very safe and convenient.