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Background: Chronic pelvic pain in adolescents accounts for 10% of outpatient gynecology visits, and 70% of adolescent patients whose pelvic pain is unresponsive to initial therapy have endometriosis. To date, there has been no published research investigating the use of acupuncture for adolescents with chronic pelvic pain and/or endometriosis. Methods: This paper presents two case reports describing the impact of a course of acupuncture on adolescent girls with endometriosis-related chronic pelvic pain of more than 1 year. Results: Both patients, undergoing between 9 and 15 treatments over a 7- to 12-week period, experienced modest improvement in pain as measured by oral self-reports of pain on a scale from 1 to 10, as well as selfor family-reported improvement in headaches, nausea and fatigue. No adverse effects were reported. Conclusions: These case reports provide preliminary evidence that acupuncture may be an acceptable and safe adjunct treatment therapy for some adolescents with endometriosis-related pelvic pain refractory to standard antiendometriosis therapies. These observations suggest that a prospective, randomized controlled trial of the safety and efficacy of acupuncture for this population may be warranted.
Study Objective To assess feasibility, and collect preliminary data for a subsequent randomized, sham-controlled trial to evaluate Japanese-style acupuncture for reducing chronic pelvic pain and improving health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in adolescents with endometriosis. Design Randomized, sham-controlled trial. Settings Tertiary-referral hospital. Participants Eighteen young women (13–22y) with laparoscopically-diagnosed endometriosis-related chronic pelvic pain. Interventions A Japanese style of acupuncture and a sham acupuncture control. Sixteen treatments were administered over 8 weeks. Main Outcome Measures Protocol feasibility, recruitment numbers, pain not associated with menses or intercourse, and multiple HRQOL instruments including Endometriosis Health Profile, Pediatric Quality of Life, Perceived Stress, and Activity Limitation. Results Fourteen participants (out of 18 randomized) completed the study per protocol. Participants in the active acupuncture group (n = 9) experienced an average 4.8 (SD = 2.4) point reduction on a 11 point scale (62%) in pain after 4 weeks, which differed significantly from the control group's (n = 5) average reduction of 1.4 (SD = 2.1) points (P = 0.004). Reduction in pain in the active group persisted through a 6-month assessment; however, after 4 weeks, differences between the active and control group decreased and were not statistically significant. All HRQOL measures indicated greater improvements in the active acupuncture group compared to the control; however, the majority of these trends were not statistically significant. No serious adverse events were reported. Conclusion Preliminary estimates indicate that Japanese-style acupuncture may be an effective, safe, and well-tolerated adjunct therapy for endometriosis-related pelvic pain in adolescents. A more definitive trial evaluating Japanese-style acupuncture in this population is both feasible and warranted.