Acupuncture for relieving pregnant women’s pelvic and back pain

Pain in the pelvic region and lower back is a common complaint in late pregnancy and affects approximately 24% to 94% of all pregnant women. Pelvic region and lower back increases during pregnancy, during the day and by daily activities as well. Furthermore, pregnant women experiencing low-back pain have reported a reduction in their health-related quality of life.

Many doctors are now recommending acupuncture as a treatment to reduce stress, balance hormones, and ease the anxiety and

pain of pregnancy and labor. It’s considered a safe treatment for many of the common symptoms during pregnancy, to ease the physical and emotional strain on the body, as well as after the baby is born to help with any mood, depression, mental or physical symptoms the mother may experience. It can even be used right before the baby is due to prepare the body for labor.

In a randomized single blind controlled trial study.[1] 386 pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain were divided into three groups, which receives six weeks interventions of standard treatment (n = 130, standard treatment plus acupuncture (n = 125), or standard treatment plus stabilizing exercises (n = 131). The acupuncture group, in turn, had less pain in the evening than the stabilizing exercise group. Furthermore, the acupuncture group had less pain than the standard treatment group in the morning and in the evening. Attenuation of pelvic girdle pain as assessed by the independent examiner was greatest in the acupuncture group.

In another randomized controlled trial conducted on 152 pregnant women who have lower back and posterior pelvic pain.[2] One week of continuous auricular acupuncture significantly decreases the pain and disability experienced by women with pregnancy related low back and posterior pelvic pain.

Overall, recent clinic trails provides persuasive evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in managing pelvic and back pain in pregnancy.[1, 3] Given that acupuncture is a relatively safe procedure, these findings should encourage primary health care providers, obstetricians, and midwives to consider referring women to trained acupuncturists for management of this common, painful, and disabling condition.

NOTE: There are a few acupuncture points that a trained acupuncturist will avoid during pregnancy. So, I always recommend doing your homework and making sure that your acupuncturist is properly trained and licensed for the best care.

[1] Elden, H.; Ladfors, L.; Olsen, M. F.; Ostgaard, H. C.; Hagberg, H.,. BMJ 2005, 330, 761. [2] Wang, S. M.; Dezinno, P.; Lin, E. C.; Lin, H.; Yue, J. J.; Berman, M. R.; Braveman, F.; Kain, Z. N.,. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 2009, 201, 271 e1-9. [3] Ee, C. C.; Manheimer, E.; Pirotta, M. V.; White, A. R.,. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 2008, 198, 254-9.

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