Context: Menstruation, although a normal physiologic process, can result in cramping and discomfort in women. The symptomatology may manifest as musculoskeletal changes that can be identified and addressed to provide relief for suffering patients.
Objective: To evaluate for common somatic dysfunctions and Chapman's reflex points by performing full-body osteopathic structural exams (OSE) on women during menstruation compared to when they are not menstruating.
Methods: Participants were menstruating, female faculty, staff and students recruited from Kansas City University. Data was gathered in the form of OSE findings from 2 intervals of menstruation and compared to data gathered from 2 intervals of non-menstruation. Each participant was evaluated at 4 visits: visit 1 during menstruation, visit 2 during non-menstruation, visit 3 during their subsequent cycle of menstruation, and visit 4 during their subsequent cycle of non-menstruation. At each visit, the participant was evaluated separately by the fellow and the physician.
Results: Of the 32 potential participants, 23 completed the study. In this population, 23 participants (100%) had a lumbar somatic dysfunction during one menstrual cycle, with only 14 (60.9%) having a lumbar dysfunction during non-menstruation (P=0.004). Of the 5 posterior Chapman's reflex points evaluated, 17 participants (73.9%) had at least 1 of the Chapman's points with dysfunction during 1 menstruation cycle compared to only 10 participants (43.5%) during non-menstruation (P=0.039). Three participants (13%) were found to have a left-sided innominate dysfunction during 1 menstrual cycle compared to only 1 participant (4%) having a left-sided innominate dysfunction during non-menstruation (P<0.001).
Conclusion: This study found 3 common areas of dysfunction in menstruating women that could be targeted by physicians for evaluation and treatment: the lumbar spine, the left innominate, and two posterior Chapman's points. These findings aid in closing the gap from previously published data regarding the presence of somatic dysfunction in women during menstruation.
Cabrera KL, Darwish AM, Lurz K, McClain R, McClain E, Cox W, Segars L. Osteopathic Structural Findings in Women During Menstruation. AAO Journal. 2019; 29(1). doi: 10.53702/2375-5717-29.1.7.