Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, MBA, PhD, PA-C


Objective: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not topical heat patches are more effective at relieving pain associated with dysmenorrhea than OTC NSAIDs (Ibuprofen 400 mg PO Q8h or Acetaminophen 500mg PO Q6h) in menstruating women 18 and over.

Study Design: Review of three English-language randomized control trials (RCTs) that were published in 2001, 2004, and 2012.

Data Sources: Three single-blinded randomized control trials that were found using PubMed

Outcome Measured: Dysmenorrhea and any associated pain relief was measured using patient-reported scales of NRS-10 Pain scale, 6-Point categorical scale, and patient reports of sensual, emotional, current, and total pain.

Results: Akin et. al 2001 and 2004 studies found that topical heat patches were associated with statistically significant greater reduction in pain associated with dysmenorrhea than oral NSAIDs. A 2012 study by Navvabi Rigi, et al., however, showed no statistically significant difference in pain reduction in patients that received topical heat versus an oral NSAID.

Conclusions: Some studies have shown that topical heat causes greater pain reduction than oral NSAIDs, though the results are inconclusive among all studies. Further studies with larger sample sizes and double blinding will be needed to determine the true effectiveness of topical heat in treating pain associated with dysmenorrhea versus oral NSAIDs.