NEW YORK (Reuters Health) ~ New research shows that a special Acupuncture technique can help ease lower back and pelvic pain in pregnant women.
In a study, women who had pressure needles held in place with tape in their ears for one week, were more likely to experience significant reductions in lower back and pelvic pain than those who had the needles placed at three “sham” points or women in a control group who didn’t get real or fake acupuncture.
Pregnant women often suffer from pain in the lower back and pelvis ~ and this can set the stage for chronic pain later on, according to Dr. Shu-Ming Wang of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.
Ear acupuncture might offer a drug-free way to help ease pain in these women. Wang and his colleagues randomly assigned 159 women in the 25th to 38th week of pregnancy to receive real acupuncture, acupuncture delivered to points that would theoretically not affect pain in the pelvic or lower back area, and a control group. Every woman was also instructed to use self-care as needed, including resting, taking acetaminophen, and applying warm and cold compresses. All of the 152 women who completed the two-week study reported some degree of pain reduction and improvement in their ability to function.
A 30 percent or greater reduction in pain was reported by 81 percent of women in the acupuncture group. Improvements in function were significantly greater among women who had real acupuncture compared to those who got the fake version or received no treatment.
A week after the end of acupuncture treatment, 68 percent of those who received the real thing still had a 30 percent or greater reduction in pain compared to the beginning of treatment ~ the only side effect was temporary tenderness in the ear area, reported by one woman in the acupuncture group and three in the sham acupuncture group.
The treatment is inexpensive and it takes about three minutes for the needles to be put in place if an experienced person is doing the job.
In future studies, it would be worthwhile, the researchers say, to explore whether extended continuous ear acupuncture yields a more sustained effect and determine the characteristics of acupuncture responders versus nonresponders.
They call for larger studies to investigate these issues, and to determine whether the treatment has any effect on pregnancy outcome.
SOURCE: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, September 2009.